Probable post-traumatic stress disorder and harmful alcohol use among male members of the British Police Forces and the British Armed Forces:a comparative study

Irizar, Patricia and Stevelink, Sharon A.M. and Pernet, David and Gage, Suzanne H. and Greenberg, Neil and Wessely, Simon and Goodwin, Laura and Fear, Nicola T. (2021) Probable post-traumatic stress disorder and harmful alcohol use among male members of the British Police Forces and the British Armed Forces:a comparative study. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 12 (1). ISSN 2000-8198

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Abstract

Background: British Armed Forces’ and Police Forces’ personnel are trained to operate in potentially traumatic conditions. Consequently, they may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is often comorbid with harmful alcohol use. Objective: We aimed to assess the proportions, and associations, of probable PTSD and harmful alcohol use among a covariate-balanced sample of male military personnel and police employees. Methods: Proportions of probable PTSD, harmful alcohol use, and daily binge drinking, were explored using data from the police Airwave Health Monitoring Study (2007–2015) (N = 23,826) and the military Health and Wellbeing Cohort Study (phase 2: 2007–2009, phase 3: 2014–2016) (N = 7,399). Entropy balancing weights were applied to the larger police sample to make them comparable to the military sample on a range of pre-specified variables (i.e. year of data collection, age and education attainment). Multinomial and logistic regression analyses determined sample differences in outcome variables, and associated factors (stratified by sample). Results: Proportions of probable PTSD were similar in military personnel and police employees (3.67% vs 3.95%), although the large sample size made these borderline significant (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR): 0.84; 95% Confidence Intervals (CI): 0.72 to 0.99). Clear differences were found in harmful alcohol use among military personnel, compared to police employees (9.59% vs 2.87%; AOR: 2.79; 95% CI: 2.42 to 3.21). Current smoking, which was more prevalent in military personnel, was associated with harmful drinking and binge drinking in both samples but was associated with PTSD in military personnel only. Conclusions: It is generally assumed that both groups have high rates of PTSD from traumatic exposures, however, low proportions of PTSD were observed in both samples, possibly reflecting protective effects of unit cohesion or resilience. The higher level of harmful drinking in military personnel may relate to more prominent drinking cultures or unique operational experiences. HIGHLIGHTS Probable PTSD and harmful drinking were compared in military personnel and police employees. Proportions of probable PTSD were comparable in military personnel and police employees. Military personnel were three times more likely to drink harmfully than police employees.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Journal of Psychotraumatology
Subjects:
ID Code:
166435
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
22 Feb 2022 09:45
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
24 May 2022 00:39