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Psychiatr Serv. 2003 Jan;54(1):84-91.

Disability compensation seeking among veterans evaluated for posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Charleston, South Carolina 29401-5799, USA.



This study sought to further examine the relationship between compensation-seeking status and reporting of symptoms among combat veterans who were evaluated for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Archival data were drawn for 320 adult male combat veterans who were consecutively evaluated at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) PTSD outpatient clinic from 1995 to 1999. The veterans were compared on variables from their clinical evaluation, including diagnostic status and self-report measures such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, which includes scales designed to detect feigned or exaggerated psychopathology.


Compensation-seeking veterans reported significantly more distress across domains of psychopathology, even after the effects of income had been controlled for and despite an absence of differences in PTSD diagnoses between groups. However, compensation-seeking veterans also were much more likely to overreport or exaggerate their symptoms than were non-compensation-seeking veterans.


This study provided further evidence that VA disability compensation incentives influence the way some veterans report their symptoms when they are being evaluated for PTSD. These data suggest that current VA disability policies have problematic implications for the delivery of clinical care, evaluation of treatment outcome, and rehabilitation efforts within the VA.

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