OBJECTIVE: To help improve treatment for incarcerated veterans, the study examined exposure to trauma, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), functional status, and treatment history in a group of incarcerated veterans. METHODS: A convenience sample of 129 jailed veterans who agreed to receive outreach contact completed the Life Event History Questionnaire, the PTSD Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), and the Addiction Severity Index. Participants who had scores of 50 or above on the PCL-C, designated as screening positive for PTSD, were compared with those whose scores were below 50, designated as screening negative for PTSD. RESULTS: Some 112 veterans (87 percent) reported traumatic experiences. A total of 51 veterans (39 percent) screened positive for PTSD, and 78 veterans (60 percent) screened negative. Compared with veterans who screened negative for PTSD, those who screened positive reported a greater variety of traumas; more serious current legal problems; a higher lifetime use of alcohol, cocaine, and heroin; higher recent expenditures on drugs; more psychiatric symptoms; and worse general health despite more previous psychiatric and medical treatment as well as treatment for substance abuse. CONCLUSIONS: The findings encourage the development of an improved treatment model to keep jailed veterans with PTSD from repeated incarceration.
Trauma, symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, and associated problems among incarcerated veterans