A study by Ilan Wald, M.A., of Tel Aviv University, Israel, of infantry soldiers suggests that combat exposure interacts with threat-related attention, placing soldiers at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The study of 1,085 male Israeli Defense Force soldiers (average age almost 19 years) also suggests that other risk factors may account for considerable variance in PTSD vulnerability.
According to the results, soldiers developed threat vigilance during combat deployment, particularly when they were exposed to high-intensity combat, as indicated by faster response times to targets appearing at the location of a threat compared to neutral stimuli. The study, carried out from 2008 through 2010, included baseline and predeployment data collected in training camps and deployment data collected in the combat theater, according to the study.
“Understanding these associations informs research on novel attention bias modification techniques and prevention of PTSD,” the study concludes.
(JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 13 2013. doi:10.1001/2013.jamapsychiatry.188.