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Lengthy Army Deployments Affect Spouses' Mental Health

And, morphine use after combat injuries linked to lower risk of post-traumatic stress disorder

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Wives of U.S. Army soldiers who have prolonged deployments to combat zones may have a higher risk of receiving a mental health diagnosis. In addition, injured soldiers who receive morphine during trauma care may have a lower risk of subsequently developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to two studies in the Jan. 14 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

In one study, Alyssa J. Mansfield, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues analyzed 2003 to 2006 data on 250,626 wives of active-duty U.S. Army soldiers. Compared to wives whose husbands were not deployed to combat zones, they found those whose husbands were deployed for either one to 11 months or more than 11 months were significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depressive disorders (27.4 and 39.3 excess cases per 1,000, respectively).

In a second study, Troy Lisa Holbrook, Ph.D., of the Naval Health Research Center in San Diego, and colleagues studied 696 injured soldiers, including 243 who were later diagnosed with PTSD. They found that the use of morphine during early resuscitation and trauma care was significantly associated with a reduced risk of PTSD (odds ratio, 0.47).

"The authors of both articles have generated provocative findings from administrative data sets with important implications for preventive strategies," states the author of an accompanying editorial.

Abstract - Mansfield
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Abstract - Holbrook
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