Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Personal Values in Soldiers after Military Deployment: Associations with Mental Health and Resilience

Academic journal article European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Personal Values in Soldiers after Military Deployment: Associations with Mental Health and Resilience

Article excerpt


Personal values in soldiers after military deployment: associations with mental health and resilience

Peter Zimmermann1*, Susanne Firnkes2, Jens T. Kowalski1, Johannes Backus2, Stefan Siegel1, Gerd Willmund1 and Andreas Maercker3

1German Armed Forces Center for Military Mental Health, Berlin, Germany; 2German Armed Forces 1st Army Division, Hannover, Germany; 3Institute of Clinical Psychology, Psychopathology and Clinical Intervention, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland


Background : After military deployment, soldiers are at an increased risk of developing posttraumatic psychiatric disorders. The correlation of personal values with symptoms, however, has not yet been examined within a military context.

Method : Schwartz's Portrait Values Questionnaire (PVQ), the Posttraumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS), and the 11-item version of the Resilience Scale (RS-11) were completed by 117 soldiers of the German Armed Forces who had recently been deployed to Afghanistan (n= 40 undergoing initial psychiatric treatment, n= 77 untreated).

Results : Logistic regression showed that the value types of hedonism (?), power (?), tradition (+), and universalism (+) were significantly correlated with the probability and severity of PTSD and whether the participant was in treatment or not. The effects were partially mediated by the RS-11 scale values.

Conclusions : Value types seem to be associated with psychiatric symptoms in soldiers after deployment. These results could contribute to the further development of therapeutic approaches.

Keywords: Beliefs/values; war; logistic regression; treatment readiness; active duty soldiers

Responsible Editor: Rita Rosner, KU Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, Germany.

*Correspondence to: Peter Zimmermann, Bundeswehrkrankenhaus, Abt. VIB Psychotraumazentrum, Scharnhorststr. 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany, Email:

For the abstract or full text in other languages, please see Supplementary files under Article Tools online

Received: 29 September 2013; Revised: 4 April 2014; Accepted: 8 April 2014; Published: 5 May 2014

European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014. © 2014 Peter Zimmermann et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC-BY 4.0) License (, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, and to remix, transform, and build upon the material, for any purpose, even commercially, under the condition that appropriate credit is given, that a link to the license is provided, and that you indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Citation: European Journal of Psychotraumatology 2014, 5: 22939 -

In recent years, German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr) soldiers have increasingly sought treatment in Bundeswehr hospitals for deployment-related psychiatric disorders. The most common diagnosis is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Kowalski et al., 2012; Zimmermann, Hahne, & Ströhle, 2009). There is also an increased risk for other symptoms in the military, such as alcohol dependence or anxiety (Wittchen et al., 2012). The probability of developing a certain disorder and the severity of symptoms depend on the distribution of individual risk and resilience factors as well as on the distribution of stressful experiences during deployment, which have shown to have discriminant validity when it comes to symptoms (Dias, Sales, Cardoso & Kleber, 2014; Pietrzak, Whealin, Stotzer, Goldstein, & Southwick, 2011).

Risk and resilience factors can include characteristics of the values and norms of traumatized persons (Litz et al. …

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