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New Post-War Study Finds Vietnam Vets with PTSD More Likely to Die than Vets Without

BETHESDA, MD—Vietnam veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were nearly twice as likely to die as those without PTSD, according to the first prospective mortality study of Vietnam veterans. The study, conducted by Abt Associates in partnership with the Cohen Veterans Center at NYU Langone Medical Center, was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
The National Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study (NVVLS) employs one of the longest follow-up periods of a representative group of veterans to date.  Using cause of death and warzone stress exposure data from the NVVLS, and adjusting for socio-demographic characteristics, researchers looked at more than 2,000 male Vietnam combat zone veterans, as well as those who served in the military outside of the combat zone, and identified potential factors leading to the greatest mortality risk.
“This study gives us vital insights into the potential long-term health and mental health effects of warzone service on America’s uniformed services personnel,” said Dr. Nida Corry, a researcher at Abt and one of the study’s lead authors.  “It showed that trauma or warzone stress still negatively affected many veterans more than 30 years after the War in Vietnam ended.”
The study also found that:

  • Theater veterans with high warzone stress and PTSD had the greatest mortality risk;
  • Among theater veterans, men had a twofold increase in mortality compared to women, and black veterans had nearly double the risk of death compared to white veterans; and,
  • Cancer and heart disease accounted for the greatest number of deaths among Vietnam veterans.

“With a growing number of veterans who served in warzones, a better understanding of the impacts of this service may lead to improvements in the programs and services designed to address veterans’ health challenges,” Corry said.
The study participants were initially surveyed in the 1984 – 1988 National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study (NVVRS), which set a baseline by assessing the prevalence, incidence, and effects of PTSD and other post-war challenges. NVVRS participants were selected from the 8.3 million veterans who served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam era who were still alive in 1987.
To read the study, visit:
About Abt Associates
Abt Associates is a mission-driven, global leader in research, evaluation and program implementation in the fields of health, social and environmental policy, and international development. Known for its rigorous approach to solving complex challenges, Abt Associates is regularly ranked as one of the top 20 global research firms and one of the top 40 international development innovators. The company has multiple offices in the U.S. and program offices in more than 40 countries.
Caroline Broder
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