On-Screen Exposure to Battlefield Sights and Psychological Symptoms Among RPA Operators
International journal of psychiatry (Overland Park)
Background: On-screen exposure to battlefield sights can be stressful. This study aimed to investigate the link between exposure to distressing battlefield events involving severe injuries and fatalities and distress symptoms. Method: A cross-sectional design study based on self-report questionnaires. The questionnaires included: State-anxiety inventory (STAI), Depression (BDI), posttraumatic stress disorder (PCL-5); and Burnout (MBI). Results: The participants were 126 Israeli operators of
... li operators of remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), 91.3% male, 49.2% aged 18-25. Percentage of exposure to distressing sights was 34.7% (n = 42). The rate of intrusive PTSD symptoms was higher in the group that had been exposed to distressing sights than in the other group (p = .019). Burnout, depressive, and anxiety symptoms appeared in younger operators. The GLM model for predicting post-trauma symptoms (PTSS), depression, anxiety and burnout, revealed that older individuals who had been in career service for over five years were at higher risk of PTSS. Conclusions: Younger RPA's are more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and burnout symptoms, which seem to originate from their younger age and military inexperience rather than from distressing sights. Exposure to distressing sights is related to PTSD-intrusive symptoms that characterize the older RPA operators who have been exposed to a larger number of distressing sights being older and having served for a longer period. Limitations: The relatively modest sample size may have limited reaching statistically significant differences in the variables.