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Contractors who worked in conflict zones suffer high rates of PTSD, depression
Date:12/9/2013

Private contractors who worked in Iraq, Afghanistan or other conflict environments over the past two years report suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression more often than military personnel who served in recent conflicts, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Researchers found that among the contractors studied, 25 percent met criteria for PTSD, 18 percent screened positive for depression and half reported alcohol misuse. Despite the troubles, relatively few get help either before or after deployment.

"Given the extensive use of contractors in conflict areas in recent years, these findings highlight a significant but often overlooked group of people struggling with the after-effects of working in a war zone," said Molly Dunigan, co-author of the study and a political scientist with RAND, a nonprofit research organization.

The results are from an anonymous online survey of 660 people who had deployed on contract to a theater of conflict at least once between early 2011 and early 2013. The study attracted participants through several methods, including contacting individual companies and trade associations and posting links to the survey on websites and blogs. It is the first survey to examine a broad range of deployed contractors, not just those who provide security services.

While the contractors surveyed suffered problems at higher rates than military members, researchers caution that such rates cannot easily be compared because of variations in measures and methodology. Among U.S. troops deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, PTSD rates are estimated at 4 percent to 20 percent, depression rates are estimated at 5 percent to 37 percent and alcohol misuse is estimated at 5 percent to 39 percent.

"Because many of the contractors participating in the study -- 84 percent -- had previously served in the armed forces, it is difficult to gauge whether their work on contract is the source of these pr
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Contact: Lisa Sodders
lsodders@rand.org
310-393-0411 x7139
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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