Measuring sleep disturbance and evaluating health outcomes after deployment in Iraq/Afghanistan veterans




Orihuela, Catheryn A.

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Sleep disturbance is common in military and Veteran populations with an estimated 41% of deployed active duty OIF/OEF service members experiencing problems related to sleep. Insomnia and related physiological/ psychological sequelae set these individuals up for subsequent physical and mental health comorbidity. Identifying sleep disturbance is important in determining treatment options especially when comorbidity is present. While a number of sleep measures of sleep measures exist to identify sleep disorders, these typically place undue time burden on respondents. Practitioners may also be reluctant to use such measures if they require substantial time to score. The present study offers a novel, concise measure of sleep disturbance and an evaluation of mental health outcomes and associated comorbidity. One hundred and forty-seven U.S. Iraq/Afghanistan Veterans (IAV) who entered U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) care between 2007-2009 and received at least three years of care through 2011 completed self-report questionnaires related to health outcomes since returning from deployment. The Index of Sleep Disturbance (ISD), which required only a few minutes to complete and score, provides a brief option to screening for sleep problems in clinical care and research. Cronbach’s alpha demonstrated very good internal consistency (α = .85). Results also revealed that comorbidity was prominent with over half of the sample (53.1%) meeting high cutoffs for at least two comorbid conditions (sleep disturbance, depression, PTSD, somatization, and/or pain). Further, 92% of the subsample indicating high sleep disturbance (n = 61) also met high cutoffs for at least one comorbid condition.


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Comorbidity, Depression, Military Health, PTSD, Sleep assessment, Sleep disturbance