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Battle Continues Over Vietnam PTSD Numbers
Date:8/23/2007

l not available when the NVVRS was conducted, had sought to squelch the previous controversy.

But it didn't. In fact, a new article -- one of four published in the August issue of the Journal of Traumatic Stress -- has pushed the number of estimated Vietnam veterans currently experiencing PTSD downward even further, to just 5.4 percent.

"I thought [this issue] had been settled," said Bruce Dohrenwend, the lead author of the Science paper and a Columbia University professor. "I think the facts are pretty clear; the interpretations of the facts are what's different."

The latest round of debate, in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, includes an article by Dohrenwend and colleagues, delineating their methods and findings.

Meanwhile, the author of the newest set of numbers, Richard McNally, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, said he feels that people have misinterpreted his work as an attempt to disparage Dohrenwend.

"I thought Dohrenwend's re-analysis was terrific. My only quibble is that depending on how one defines impairment, the prevalence rate changes dramatically," he said. "If you use the slightly more stringent criteria for impairment, which I'm calling 'clinically significant,' the prevalence drops by 65 percent."

"The main point is that the historians suspected that the original estimates were too high. Dohrenwend found a 40 percent lower prevalence, ergo the historians were correct," McNally added.

But McNally's interpretation has its own critics in the journal's pages.

The original authors of the NVVRS study, led by William E. Schlenger of Duke University Medical Center, wrote that McNally's commentary "misrepresented" the NVVRS and that Dohrenwend's findings are "landmark contributions to the field and represent a major advance in the assessment of exposure to war zone stressors."

Finally, a paper by Dean Kilpatrick, of the National Cr
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