Co-occurring mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder in the military

Jordan R Joyner, Tennessee State University


The number of soldiers being deployed in combat settings is steadily increasing with peace-keeping or combat-related missions occurring multiple times in an individual's military career. Combat increases military personnel's likelihood of experiencing physical and/or psychological trauma. This is most clearly seen in the increase in diagnoses of both Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is among the most common injury facing veterans today and TBIs have become the signature wound of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. The aim of this study is to determine whether MTBI and PTSD co-occur, if there are contributing factors, and whether the contributing factors influenced the co-morbidity. Participants were recruited in person from military veteran agencies in Nashville, TN and through social media. An assessment packet comprised of the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Military version, the three-Question TBI Screening tool, and the Brief COPE were used to analyze the hypotheses. Statistically significant correlations were found between MTBI severity and PTSD symptom severity, suggesting that it is possible for the two disorders to co-exist within the same individuals in the current sample. Age, gender, and length of deployment were deemed significant mediators in the relationship between MTBI and PTSD, indicating that they have an impact on the disorders. The use of coping skills differed by diagnoses, significant at p = .01. Acceptance was the only positive coping skill to significantly differentiate between groups. Negative coping skills that were statistically significant included: Self-Blame, Behavioral Disengagement, Humor, Venting, Self-Distraction, and Substance Use. There were significant differences between groups for patterns of coping skills. These results suggest that MTBI, PTSD, and co-morbid MTBI and PTSD is an area requiring additional research. It is further recommended that the relationship between MTBI, PTSD, and co-morbid MTBI/PTSD and coping skills be further explored.

Subject Area

Mental health|Physical therapy|Behavioral psychology|Cognitive psychology|Military studies

Recommended Citation

Jordan R Joyner, "Co-occurring mild traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder in the military" (2014). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI1584218.