Guilt and It’s Relationship to Mental Illness and Suicide Attempts in an Australian Veteran Population with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Kerr, Katelyn
Romaniuk, M
McLeay, S
Walker, S
Henderson, J
Khoo, J
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2021
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https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Abstract

Background: Australian veterans have an increased risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Guilt is a common post-trauma reaction; however, research in this area is limited.

Purpose: This study aimed to explore the relationship between guilt, PTSD severity, alcohol use, anger, history of suicide attempts and deployment period among Australian veterans with PTSD.

Material and Methods: A retrospective analysis was conducted on 219 ex-service personnel diagnosed with PTSD who attended a Military Trauma Recovery Day Program. Veterans completed self-report questionnaires as well as a clinician-administered PTSD assessment tool. Demographic information and self-reported history of suicide attempts were also recorded.

Results: Guilt scores were significantly correlated with PTSD severity (R=0.411), anger (R=0.373) and alcohol use (R=0.239). Guilt was most strongly correlated with the re-experiencing cluster of PTSD (R=0.420), although it was significantly correlated with all clusters (hyperarousal R=0.343, and avoidance R=0.327). Guilt scores were significantly higher in those who had attempted suicide and for contemporary veterans.

Conclusions: In Australian veterans with PTSD, guilt was significantly associated with PTSD severity, anger, alcohol use, attempted suicide and being a contemporary veteran. The study highlights the importance of guilt identification and treatment by clinicians for improved outcomes.

Conflicting interests: The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest.

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Journal of Military and Veterans Health
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© The Author(s) 2021. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Criminology
Psychology
Sociology
Public health
Clinical sciences
Dentistry
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Kerr, K; Romaniuk, M; McLeay, S; Walker, S; Henderson, J; Khoo, J, Guilt and It’s Relationship to Mental Illness and Suicide Attempts in an Australian Veteran Population with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Journal of Military and Veterans Health, 2021, 29 (3)
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