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The Swedish Soldier and General Mental Health Following Service in Peacekeeping Operations

by Michel, Per-Olof

Abstract (Summary)
The Scandinavian countries have a long tradition of taking part in peacekeeping missions and also of research in this field. The aim of this thesis is to continue the tradition of research and try to shed some more light on the mental health aspects of peacekeeping operations. Two methods were used to accomplish this. One was to study a Swedish battalion serving for 6 months in NATO┬┤s IFOR mission in Bosnia in 1996, using a longitudinal approach. Questionnaires covering predeployment factors, general mental health, traumatic experiences and effects of support were used. The other method was to perform a register study in which 39 768 individuals who had served in peacekeeping missions were compared to a matched group of the general population with regard to differences in suicide rates. The general level of mental health problems and post-traumatic reactions was low and did not change over time. Traumatic experiences during service only appeared to make a temporary difference in general mental health. There are indications that possible predictors for poor mental health in peacekeepers could be constituted by: lower mean scores on the SOC questionnaire and on the Emotional Stability scale of the FFPI; personality disorders in general; prior family problems or psychiatric problems expressed through suicidal thoughts before deployment and problems experienced post-deployment, such as "relationship problems", death of a close relative", or "financial problems". It was found that the combination of peer support and a defusing session led by platoon commanders had positive effects on the post deployment mental health. The rate of personality disorders appears to be at the same level as or at a slightly lower level than in the general population. Compared to the general population, the suicide rate was showed to be lower in the peacekeeper population.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:Uppsala universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Psychiatry; Psychiatry; Mental health; military; peacekeeping; personality disorders; suicide.; Psykiatri

ISBN:91-554-6174-3

Date of Publication:01/01/2005

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