Association between baseline psychological attributes and mental health outcomes after soldiers returned from deployment


Psychological health is vital for effective employees, especially in stressful occupations like military and public safety sectors. Yet, until recently little empirical work has made the link  between requisite psychological resources and important mental health outcomes across time in those sectors. In this study we explore the association between 14 baseline psychological health attributes (such as adaptability, coping ability, optimism) and mental health outcomes following exposure to combat deployment.



Retrospective analysis of all U.S. Army soldiers who enlisted between 2009 and 2012 and took the Global Assessment Tools (GAT) before their first deployment (n = 63,186). We analyze whether a soldier screened positive for depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from deployment using logistic regressions. Our key independent variables are 14 psychological attributes based on GAT, and we control for relevant demographic and service characteristics. In addition, we generate a composite risk score for each soldier based on the predicted probabilities from the above multivariate model using just baseline psychological attributes and demographic information.



Comparing those who scored in the bottom 5 percentile of each attribute to those in the top 95 percentile, the odds ratio of post-deployment depression symptoms ranges from 1.21

(95% CI 1.06, 1.40) for organizational trust to 1.73 (CI 1.52, 1.97) for baseline depression. The odds ratio of positive screening of PTSD symptoms ranges from 1.22 for family support

(CI 1.08, 1.38) to 1.51 for baseline depression (CI 1.32, 1.73). The risk profile analysis shows that 31% of those who screened positive for depression and 27% of those who screened positive for PTSD were concentrated among the top 5% high risk population.



A set of validated, self-reported questions administered early in a soldier’s career can predict future mental health problems, and can be used to improve workforce fit and provide significant financial benefits to organizations that do so.

Yu-Chu Shen, Jeremy Arkes, Paul B. Lester | 2017
In: BMC Psychology, eISSN 2050-7283 | 5 | October | 32
BMC Psychology 2017 5:32