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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 March 2008, 02:35 GMT
UK peace troops 'less stressed'
British soldier as part of UN peacekeeping force in East Timor in 1999
The study looked at UN peacekeeping operations from 1991
UK troops on UN peace missions have lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than most other nationals on similar deployments, a study suggests.

King's College London researchers found 3.6% to 5.5% of UK personnel who had been on assignments reported symptoms.

PTSD rates for peacekeeping troops from Western countries vary from 2% to 15%, previous research has indicated.

The UK study of 1,198 personnel said differences in culture and operational practices may account for lower rates.

The King's College study said UK officers and married personnel were the least likely to suffer PTSD symptoms.

It also indicated that gender, age or deployment status - whether personnel were with their own unit or part of another - did not influence prevalence.

However, it suggested those who had left the military were more likely to suffer from PTSD than those who had remained in it.

Researchers examined peacekeeping operations dating back to 1991, including missions in the former Yugoslavia, including Bosnia and Kosovo, the Gulf and Cyprus.

'Positive role'

BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt said the study appeared to show that immediate psychotherapy after potentially traumatic events could be counter-productive.

The accepted practice in the UK is to give military personnel at least a month to talk to family, friends and colleagues before suggesting professional help.

National attitudes towards military risk and level of training may also play a role, concluded the study.

Our correspondent said: "UK armed forces rate their military leaders more highly than troops from many other nations - with previous studies showing that such perceptions can play a positive role in preventing PTSD."

Dr Neil Greenberg, who led the research team from the Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health, said: "Although PTSD was an uncommon problem in the studied sample, it continues to attract considerable political and media interest."

But the psychological consequences of peacekeeping operations pose a real risk management issue for military forces from both a mental health and media viewpoint, he added.

The study was undertaken in 2001 and questioned 1,198 personnel, 81% of whom were serving in the armed forces at the time.

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