The Impact of Common Psychiatric and Behavioral Comorbidities on Functional Disability Across Time and Individuals in Post-9/11 Veterans

Citation:

Francesca C. Fortenbaugh, Jennifer R. Fonda, Catherine B. Fortier, Melissa M. Amick, William P. Milberg, and Regina E. McGlinchey. 2020. “The Impact of Common Psychiatric and Behavioral Comorbidities on Functional Disability Across Time and Individuals in Post-9/11 Veterans.” Journal of Traumatic Stress, 33, 5, Pp. 750-761. Publisher's Version

Abstract:

Returning veterans often face multiple concurrent psychiatric and behavioral conditions that negatively impact reintegration into civilian life and are associated with functional disability. Understanding how conditions interact to negatively impact functioning is an important step toward developing holistic treatment approaches optimized for this population. This study utilized a cross‐sectional and prospective longitudinal cohort design, applying regression algorithms to understand the relative contribution of common clinical issues to functional disability in U.S. veterans who served after the September 11, 2001 (9/11), terror attacks. Community‐dwelling post‐9/11 veterans (N = 397) completed detailed assessments, including common clinical condition diagnoses, combat experience, and demographics, which were used to predict functional disability (World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule); 205 participants were reassessed approximately 1–2 years after enrollment. Regression analyses showed a strong association between the predictor variables and functional disability, f 2 = 1.488. Validation analyses showed a high prediction ability of functional disability to independent samples, r = .719, and across time in the same individuals, r = .780. The strongest predictors included current posttraumatic stress disorder, depressive disorder, sleep disturbance, and pain diagnoses. These results demonstrate the importance of considering multiple common co‐occurring conditions when assessing functional disability in post‐9/11 veterans and suggest that certain syndromes contribute the most unique information to predicting functional disability with high confidence. As most U.S. veterans utilize private healthcare systems, these results have clinical utility for both Veterans Affairs and civilian healthcare practitioners in assessing and monitoring functional disability in post‐9/11 veterans over time.