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Journal Article

Citation

Nassif TH, Start AR, Toblin RL, Adler AB. Psychol. Trauma 2018; ePub(ePub): ePub.

Affiliation

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

Copyright

(Copyright © 2018, American Psychological Association)

DOI

10.1037/tra0000413

PMID

30394773

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Combat exposure has been linked to health-related challenges associated with postcombat adjustment, including mental health symptoms, behavior-related problems, physical pain, and functional impairment. Mindfulness, or acceptance of the present moment without reactivity or judgment, may be associated with better mental health following a combat deployment. This study examined whether self-reported mindfulness predicted soldier health outcomes over the course of the postdeployment period.

METHOD: U.S. soldiers (n = 627) were surveyed 4 months after a deployment to Afghanistan (T1) and again 3 months later (T2). Mindfulness was assessed using the nonreactivity to inner experience subscale of the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire. Hierarchical linear regressions examined how mindfulness (T1) moderated the impact of combat exposure (T1) on outcomes at T2.

RESULTS: Controlling for rank, the interaction between combat exposure and mindfulness significantly predicted posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression symptoms, risk-taking behaviors, pain symptoms, and functional impairment. The interaction term explained 1% to 2% of the variance in these health outcomes. Simple slopes analyses revealed that combat exposure was associated with more PTSD symptoms, depression symptoms, risk-taking behaviors, pain symptoms, and functional impairment when soldiers reported low levels of mindfulness. There was no effect for alcohol misuse, sleep difficulties, or aggressive behaviors.

CONCLUSIONS: Nonreactivity to inner experience may mitigate the detrimental effects of high-levels of combat exposure on both mental and physical health outcomes. These findings indicate that mindfulness strategies such as nonreactivity may be particularly useful for employees facing potentially traumatic stressors in a high-risk occupational context. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2018 APA, all rights reserved).


Language: en

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