Date of this Version
Journal of Anxiety Disorders 28, 2014
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.