Posttraumatic stress disorder post Iraq and Afghanistan: prevalence among military subgroups

Lindsey A Hines, Josefin Sundin, Roberto J Rona, Simon Wessely, Nicola T Fear

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Citations (SciVal)


A large body of research has been produced in recent years investigating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among military personnel following deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan, resulting in apparent differences in PTSD prevalence. We compare prevalence estimates for current PTSD between military subgroups, providing insight into how groups may be differentially affected by deployment. Systematic literature searches using the terms PTSD, stress disorder, and acute stress, combined with terms relating to military personnel, identified 49 relevant papers. Studies with a sample size of less than 100 and studies based on data for treatment seeking or injured populations were excluded. Studies were categorized according to theatre of deployment (Iraq or Afghanistan), combat and noncombat deployed samples, sex, enlistment type (regular or reserve and [or] National Guard), and service branch (for example, army, navy, and air force). Meta-analysis was used to assess PTSD prevalence across subgroups. There was large variability in PTSD prevalence between studies, but, regardless of heterogeneity, prevalence rates of PTSD were higher among studies of Iraq-deployed personnel (12.9%; 95% CI 11.3% to 14.4%), compared with personnel deployed to Afghanistan (7.1%; 95% CI 4.6% to 9.6%), combat deployed personnel, and personnel serving in the Canadian, US, or UK army or the navy or marines (12.4%; 95% CI 10.9% to 13.4%), compared with the other services (4.9%; 95% CI 1.4% to 8.4%). Contrary to findings from within-study comparisons, we did not find a difference in PTSD prevalence for regular active-duty and reserve or National Guard personnel. Categorizing studies according to deployment location and branch of service identified differences among subgroups that provide further support for factors underlying the development of PTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)468-79
Number of pages12
JournalCanadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2014


  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Combat Disorders/diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Military Personnel/classification
  • Military Psychiatry/methods
  • Occupations/classification
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/diagnosis


Dive into the research topics of 'Posttraumatic stress disorder post Iraq and Afghanistan: prevalence among military subgroups'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this