Consistency of self-reported symptoms and etiological events of Afghan/Iraq war veterans

Esther C Fingerhut, Fordham University


Posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are often cited as the signature injuries of the Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn conflicts. To identify veterans so injured, the Department of Defense administers structured evaluations at the end of each deployment while the Veterans Health Administration administers structured evaluations upon veteran enrollment. These structured evaluations are based largely on self-report. However, the existing literature suggests that symptom self-report is often unreliable; with almost no studies examining the consistency of veteran self-report from end of deployment to enrollment in Veterans Health Administration healthcare system. This study examined the consistency of TBI etiology, TBI sequelae, TBI symptoms, and PTSD symptoms from the time of the Department of Defense Post-Deployment Health Assessment to the time of the Veterans Health Administration TBI evaluation. Participants consisted of 120 single-deployed veterans seeking service within the Veterans Administration New York Healthcare System, who were referred for a comprehensive TBI evaluation. Results found significant increases in all categories of self-reported combat-related symptoms and etiological events across these two time points. Several explanations from the extant literature are offered to explain these findings. These results have significant clinical implications, particularly the importance of using contemporaneous records and symptom validity testing in order to improve the accuracy of diagnosis of these combat-related disorders.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Military studies

Recommended Citation

Fingerhut, Esther C, "Consistency of self-reported symptoms and etiological events of Afghan/Iraq war veterans" (2016). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10116310.