The Neurocognitive Performance of Female Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder


Stricker, Nikki H., Jenna E. Keller, Diane T. Castillo, and Kathleen Y. Haaland. 2015. “The Neurocognitive Performance of Female Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Journal of Traumatic Stress 28 (2): 102–9. doi:10.1002/jts.22000.

Authors: Diane T. Castillo, Kathleen Y. Haaland, Jenna E. Keller, Nikki H. Stricker


Neurocognitive problems are common with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are important to understand because of their association with the success of PTSD treatment and its potential neural correlates. To our knowledge, this is the first neurocognitive study in an all-female U.S. veteran sample, some of whom had PTSD. We examined neurocognitive performance and assessed whether learning deficits, common in PTSD, were associated with executive functioning. Veterans with PTSD (n = 56) and without (n = 53) were evaluated for psychiatric and neurocognitive status. The PTSD group had a lower estimated IQ (d = 0.53) and performed more poorly on all neurocognitive domains (d range = 0.57–0.88), except verbal retention (d = 0.04). A subset of the 2 groups that were matched on IQ and demographics similarly demonstrated poorer performance for the PTSD group on all neurocognitive domains (d range = 0.52–0.79), except verbal retention (d = 0.15). Within the PTSD group, executive functioning accounted for significant variance in verbal learning over and above IQ and processing speed (ΔR2 = .06), as well as depression (ΔR2 = .07) and PTSD severity (ΔR2 = .06). This study demonstrated that female veterans with PTSD performed more poorly than females without PTSD on several neurocognitive domains, including verbal learning, processing speed, and executive functioning. Replication of these results using a control group of veterans with more similar trauma exposure, history of mild traumatic brain injury, and psychiatric comorbidities would solidify these findings.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Military Forces & Armed Groups Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2015

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