TUESDAY, Dec. 10, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Private contractors
who worked in Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflict zones over the
past two years have high rates of depression and post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), a new study finds.
Researchers conducted an anonymous online survey of 660
contractors who had been deployed to a conflict zone at least once
between early 2011 and early 2013, and found that 25 percent met
the criteria for PTSD and 18 percent for depression. Half reported
Despite these problems, few contractors received help before or
after deployment, according to the study by the RAND Corp., a
nonprofit research organization. Even though most of them had
health insurance, only 28 percent of those with PTSD and 34 percent
of those with depression reported receiving mental health treatment
in the previous 12 months.
Many contractors also reported physical health problems as a
result of deployment, including traumatic brain injuries,
respiratory issues, back pain and hearing problems, the study
authors pointed out in a RAND news release.
Duties of private contractors include military base support and
maintenance, logistical supports, transportation, intelligence,
communications, construction and security services.
"Given the extensive use of contractors in conflict areas in
recent years, these findings highlight a significant but often
overlooked group of people struggling with the after-effects of
working in a war zone," study co-author Molly Dunigan, a political
scientist at RAND, said in the news release.
Among the survey respondents, 61 percent of the contractors were
from the United States and 24 percent were from the United Kingdom.
Other respondents were from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand
and other nations.
U.S. contractors had nearly twice the rate of PTSD and
depression as U.K. contractors, who tended to report better
preparation, lower levels of combat exposure and better living
conditions than U.S. contractors. Contractors from other countries
had even better experiences in these categories than those from the
More resources are needed to help contractors at all stages of
their deployment, the researchers suggested.
The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health has more about