Potentially modifiable deployment characteristics and new-onset alcohol abuse or dependence in the US National Guard
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BACKGROUND: There is a limited amount of data examining the relation between the onset of alcohol abuse/dependence and the experiences of soldiers prior to (pre), during (peri) and after (post) military deployment. Some deployment characteristics, e.g., military unit cohesion, are potentially modifiable in the context of reducing alcohol abuse/dependence peri-/post deployment. We investigated the associations between potentially modifiable deployment characteristics and peri-/post (incident) alcohol abuse/dependence among deployed Ohio Army National Guard (OHARNG) soldiers. METHODS: Using a sample of OHARNG (June, 2008 to February, 2009), eligible participants were ever been deployed and did not report alcohol abuse/dependence prior to deployment (final sample size=963). Interviews assessed soldiers' alcohol abuse/dependence, depression, PTSD, deployment related factors (e.g., exposure to warzone stressors) and three deployment characteristics (pre-deployment preparedness, unit support during deployment, and post-deployment social support). Associations between the three deployment characteristics and incident alcohol abuse/dependence (defined as abuse or dependence at any point during or after deployment) were estimated using logistic regression. RESULTS: Only pre-deployment preparedness was associated with incident alcohol abuse/dependence (a non-linear inverted-u shaped relation) when controlling for demographics, deployment related factors (e.g., exposure to warzone stressors), and the presence of psychopathology that exhibited peri-/post-deployment. We present these results graphically, plotting incident alcohol abuse/dependence over the levels of pre-deployment preparedness. CONCLUSIONS: The association between pre-deployment preparedness and alcohol abuse/dependence may be characterized as an inverted-U shaped function. Suggestions for how and whether to modify pre-deployment preparedness in an effort to reduce peri-/post-deployment alcohol abuse or dependence should await further research.
author list (cited authors)
Orr, M. G., Prescott, M. R., Cohen, G. H., Calabrese, J. R., Tamburrino, M. B., Liberzon, I., & Galea, S.