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Prevalence of Delayed-Onset Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military Personnel: Is There Evidence for This Disorder?: Results of a Prospective UK Cohort Study

Goodwin, Laura PhD, MSc, BSc*; Jones, Margaret BA*; Rona, Roberto J. FFPH*; Sundin, Josefin PhD; Wessely, Simon FMedSci*; Fear, Nicola T. DPhil OXON*

Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease:
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31825322fe
Original Articles

Abstract: Delayed-onset posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as onset at least 6 months after a traumatic event. This study investigates the prevalence of delayed-onset PTSD in 1397 participants from a two-phase prospective cohort study of UK military personnel. Delayed-onset PTSD was categorized as participants who did not meet the criteria for probable PTSD (assessed using the PTSD Checklist Civilian version) at phase 1 but met the criteria by phase 2. Of the participants, 3.5% met the criteria for delayed-onset PTSD. Subthreshold PTSD, common mental disorder (CMD), poor/fair self-reported health, and multiple physical symptoms at phase 1 and the onset of alcohol misuse or CMD between phases 1 and 2 were associated with delayed-onset PTSD. Delayed-onset PTSD exists in this UK military sample. Military personnel who developed delayed-onset PTSD were more likely to have psychological ill-health at an earlier assessment, and clinicians should be aware of the potential comorbidity in these individuals, including alcohol misuse. Leaving the military or experiencing relationship breakdown was not associated.

Author Information

*Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London, London, UK; and †Department of Psychological Medicine, Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health, King’s College London, London, UK.

Send reprint requests to Laura Goodwin, PhD, MSc, BSc, Department of Psychological Medicine, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London, London, SE5 9RJ UK. E-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.