2018 Combat Veteran Research Study Information

Purpose of Study:

To collect data on pre and post measure scores in combat veterans participating in the South Carolina Rugged Maniac, 5K Obstacle Course, and Mud Run. To further our understanding of how physical activity and camaraderie based events impact combat veteran resiliency, anxiety, depression, mental health and overall well-being. 

Participants:

Combat Veterans from the United States Armed Forces with "Combat Action" verified by submission of DD214. 

Method:

Measures Used:

  1. Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI) - Pre and Post event

  2. Becks Anxiety Inventory (BAI) - Pre and Post event

  3. Post Traumatic Checklist -5 (PCL-5) - Pre and Post event

  4. Impact of Events - Revised (IES-R) - Pre Event only

  5. Dissociative Experiences Scale - (DES-B) - Pre Event only

  6. Post Traumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI) - Pre and Post event

  7. Combat Exposure Scale (CES) - Pre Event only

Subjects: Verified combat veterans confidentially completed each of the provided assessment scales prior to and upon completion of the event. Neither names nor other identifiable information were collected. Of the 8 subjects provided the scales, 5 were completed satisfactorily for inclusion into the dataset for analysis.

Event: The event is a 5 kilometer (3.1 mile) mud run including 25 obstacles of various levels of challenge. Participants were be part of team Operation Vet Fit and Warrior Surf Foundation. Each participant receive an event and team T-shirt, Medal, Photos, Food, and Beverages upon completion. Participant registration fees for the event and all costs were covered by the research team. 

Results: 

Combat Exposure Scale (CES) scores. Mean score 24.6 representing "Moderate to Heavy Exposure" with a Standard Deviation of 2.3. 

Impact of Events scores (IES-R) Overall IES-R rating was “Powerful” with a mean score of 29.4 albeit a larger SD of 13.79 (due to one outlier)

Post Traumatic Stress (PCL-5) Scores were representative of their combat experiences with a mean PCL-5 scores 33.6 pre-event and 42.75 post-event with a SD of 14.12 and 14.29 respectively. (interesting to see the scores increase post event while depression and anxiety scores were reduced)

Dissociation data using the DES-B Dissociation symptoms were not present, mean score of 11 and a SD of 2.8.

Depression - Pre event BDI scores represented borderline depression at 15.6 with a SD of 7.06 while post event scores dropped to 9.75, Normal, with a SD of only 3.95. 

Anxiety - Pre event BAI scores represented Moderate anxiety at 25.8 with a SD of 12.05 while post event scores dropped to 20, Mild anxiety, with a SD of 17.96 (due to one outlier)

Discussion: 

As hypothesized, team/unit/camaraderie based exercise and fitness events are effective at reducing anxiety and depression amongst the combat veteran population. The small size of this sample makes scientific determinations ill-advised. However, the findings are promising and should encourage future research and collaboration with larger sample sizes amongst the combat veteran community. This is a key area where our agency will be investing a sizable portion of our time and resources.