Mental Health Services Research

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 89–101

Employment Outcomes and PTSD Symptom Severity


    • Cooperative Studies Program and Health Services Research & Development ServiceVA Palo Alto Health Care System
    • VA Palo Alto Health Care System
  • Paula P. Schnurr
    • National Center for PTSDVA Medical and Regional Office Center
    • Department of PsychiatryDartmouth Medical School
  • Robert A. Rosenheck
    • Northeast Program Evaluation CenterVA Connecticut Health Care System
    • Department of PsychiatryYale Medical School

DOI: 10.1007/s11020-005-3780-2

Cite this article as:
Smith, M.W., Schnurr, P.P. & Rosenheck, R.A. Ment Health Serv Res (2005) 7: 89. doi:10.1007/s11020-005-3780-2


A diagnosis of chronic war-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked consistently to poor employment outcomes. This study investigates the relation further, analyzing how symptom severity correlates with work status, occupation type, and earnings. Study participants were male Vietnam veterans with severe or very severe PTSD who received treatment in the Department of Veterans Affairs system (N = 325). Veterans with more severe symptoms were more likely to work part-time or not at all. Among workers, more severe symptoms were weakly associated with having a sales or clerical position. Conditional on employment and occupation category, there was no significant relation between PTSD symptom level and earnings. Alternative PTSD symptom measures produced similar results. Our findings suggest that even modest reductions in PTSD symptoms may lead to employment gains, even if the overall symptom level remains severe.


posttraumatic stress disordersemploymentincomeVeteransVeterans hospitalsmental health services

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005