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J Trauma Stress. 2011 Dec;24(6):691-8. doi: 10.1002/jts.20691. Epub 2011 Nov 23.

Meaning made following deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan: examining unique associations with posttraumatic stress and clinical outcomes.

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  • 1Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Center, USA.


Crises in personal meaning may be a critical aspect of psychological maladjustment following combat. Using the newly developed Integration of Stressful Life Events Scale (ISLES), this study examined the role of meaning made of a salient stressor following a combat deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a sample of 169 returning service members, findings supported the distinctiveness of meaning made of a stressor (as assessed by the ISLES), factor analytically and as a correlate of several relevant clinical outcomes. In particular, when the model contained potential confounds and psychiatric symptoms, meaning made in the months and years following combat was uniquely associated with the severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms, β = -.39, and referrals for mental health care, β = -.69, in the sample. The present findings highlight the importance of the subjective meaning made of traumatic life events and also suggest that posttraumatic stress and other psychiatric symptomatology may not account for the full clinical picture among many service men and women.

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