Women in the military who experience combat have a much greater risk than those who don't of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues, a U.S. study suggests.
Compared to their peers without any combat exposure, enlisted women who had just one combat experience were over four times more likely to screen positive for PTSD in post-deployment exams, the study found.
With three or more combat experiences, the PTSD risk was more than 20 times greater.
"The findings we have are quite similar to the findings of previous studies with largely male samples, which found that men who experienced combat exposure were also more likely to suffer from mental health problems when returning home," said lead study author Rachel Sayko Adams of Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
While the study didn't compare women to men, some of the results suggest the need for more research into gender differences in combat experiences and post-deployment mental health problems, Adams added by email.