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PTSD in Latino war veterans: an examination of war-related, subjective internal, and ethnocultural risk factors

Delia M. Sosa, Pacific University


Combat-related trauma has been linked with the development of PTSD in military service members. Research with Vietnam veterans revealed that Latinos exhibited a higher prevalence of PTSD compared to veterans of other racial/ethnic groups, even after controlling for the severity of combat exposure. Several studies have been conducted to examine risk factors for PTSD that may be unique to Latino Vietnam veterans based on their distinctive cultural context and beliefs; however, there has been no such research on contemporary veterans. The current study combines research on PTSD risk factors in Latino Vietnam veterans, police officers, and civilian populations to apply the previous findings to Latino veterans of the post-Vietnam era. Risk factors were chosen for this study based on their demonstrated association with PTSD in past research, including war-related trauma factors (combat exposure and peritraumatic dissociation), subjective internal factors (coping strategies and locus of control), and ethnocultural factors (acculturation and acculturative stress). Logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine whether the above risk factors could predict PTSD diagnosis in a sample of 34 Latino veterans of the post-Vietnam era. Bootstrap analyses were also conducted to maximize the power of the sample. A test of the full model with all predictors was statistically significant, χ²(7) = 23.02, p = .002, indicating that the predictors together reliably distinguished between those veterans with and without PTSD. Predictors were also examined independently to determine their individual impact on PTSD diagnosis. With the exception of combat exposure, all risk factors influenced PTSD in the expected direction and reached statistical significance using at least one method of analysis. Findings were largely consistent with past research with Latino Vietnam veterans; however, combat exposure was not a significant predictor of PTSD.