Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Life Events Scale for Armed Forces Personnel

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Life Events Scale for Armed Forces Personnel

Article excerpt

Byline: Suprakash. Chaudhury, Kalpana. Srivastava, MSV. Kama Raju, S. Salujha

Background: Armed Forces personnel are routinely exposed to a number of unique stressful life events. None of the available scales are relevant to service personnel. Aim: To construct a scale to measure life events in service personnel. Methods: In the first stage of the study open-ended questions along with items generated by the expert group by consensus method were administered to 50 soldiers. During the second stage a scale comprising 59 items and open-ended questions was administered to 165 service personnel. The final scale of 52 items was administered to 200 service personnel in group setting. Weightage was assigned on a 0 to 100 range. For normative study the Armed Forces Medical College Life Events Scale (AFMC LES) was administered to 1200 Army, 100 Air Force and 100 Navy personnel. Results: Service personnel experience an average of 4 life events in past one year and 13 events in a life-time. On an average service personnel experience 115 life change unit scores in past one year and 577 life change unit scores in life-time on the AFMC LES. The scale has concurrent validity when compared with the Presumptive Stressful Life Events Scale (PSLES). There is internal consistency in the scale with the routine items being rated very low. There is a pattern of uniformity with the civilian counterparts along with differences in the items specific to service personnel. Conclusions: The AFMC LES includes the unique stresses of service personnel that are not included in any life events scale available in India or in the west and should be used to assess stressful life events in service personnel.

Introduction

Stress is a normal part of human existence-a double-edged sword, which can help us mobilize and achieve, or physically and psychologically incapacitate us. War is the most dramatic concentration of deliberate physical and psychological trauma that societies can inflict upon each other. Under some combat conditions not only elevated symptom levels but also breakdown in performance became endemic.[1] In a study of 2630 soldiers who had broken down during combat in Normandy campaign in World War II, it was estimated that the onset of combat exhaustion occurred even in previously normal soldiers when about 65% of their companions had been killed, wounded or had otherwise become casualties.[2] The extent to which symptoms produced in extreme situations in previously normal persons are transient and self-limiting is a matter of controversy. Against the background of exposure to the brutalities of Nazi concentration camps, there is strong evidence that not only has severe stress-induced psycho-pathology persisted in survivors but also that the survivors are more prone to physical illness and early death.[1] Similarly, 17% of the US population outside of New York City reported symptoms of September 11-related post-traumatic stress 2 months after the attacks; 5.8% did so at 6 months.[3] Natural and man-made disasters, fortunately, are rare occurrences whose devastating effects are limited to relatively small populations of exposed persons. Yet psychopathology and somatic disturbances are far from rare in peace-time populations relatively secure from war, flood, and other disasters. If stressful situations play an aetiological role in these disorders the events involved must be more ordinary, more frequent experiences in the lives of most people-things such as marriage, birth of a first child, and death of a loved one. Based on this hypothesis stressful life events scales have been constructed. A large number of published reports attest to the association of life stress and a wide range of physical and psychiatric disorders.[4],[5],[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12]

Due to cultural variations the popular stressful life events scales constructed in the West[13],[14] are not valid for other countries and the trend has been to construct life events specifically for different populations including India. …

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