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Anxiety Stress Coping. 2011 May;24(3):309-25. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2010.521238.

War exposure and post-traumatic stress as predictors of Portuguese colonial war veterans' physical health.

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Escola de Psicologia, Universidade do Minho, Campus de Gualtar, Braga, Portugal.


The relationship between war exposure and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been largely investigated but the impact of the combat experience on physical health has only recently merited attention. The authors investigated the relationship between war exposure and psychological and physical health among 350 Portuguese colonial war veterans. The role of current PTSD symptoms as a mediator of these relationships was also investigated. The results showed that 39% of the veterans met criteria for current PTSD diagnosis and psychological distress was present in half of the sample. Pain, fatigue, and sleep problems were the most reported physical symptoms and mental health and gastro-intestinal problems, the most reported illnesses. Combat exposure variables were significant predictors of current health. The results indicated that veterans with higher exposure to war trauma maintained higher current levels of psychological distress and presented more physical health problems and physical symptoms than those less exposed. Mediation analyses showed that current PTSD was a full mediator of the relationship between war exposure and physical health outcomes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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