An Analysis of Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in United States Air Force Drone Operators
SCHOOL OF AEROSPACE MEDICINE WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH DEPT
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Remotely piloted aircraft RPA, commonly referred to as drones, have emerged over the past decade as an innovative warfighting tool. Given there is a paucity of empirical research assessing drone operators, the purpose of this study was to assess for the prevalence of PTSD symptoms among this cohort. Of the 1084 United States Air Force USAF drone operators that participated, a total of 4.3 endorsed a pattern of symptoms of moderate to extreme level of severity meeting criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - 4th edition. The incidence of PTSD among USAF drone operators in this study was lower than rates of PTSD 10-18 among military personnel returning from deployment but higher than incidence rates less than 1 of USAF drone operators reported in electronic medical records. Although low PTSD rates may be promising, limitations to this study are discussed.