Peer Support, Self-efficacy, and Combat-related Trauma Symptoms among Returning OIF/OEF Veterans


  • Ann MacEachron Arizona State University
  • Nora Gustavsson Arizona State Univ



Veterans, peer support, PTSD, social support, self-help, self-efficacy, general self-efficacy


The incidence of PTSD and other combat-related trauma symptoms among more than 2 million veterans returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan suggests that many will experience psychological challenges in adjusting to civilian life. However, the literature is sparse about this new group of veterans. This study examined the relationships between peer support, self-efficacy, and PTSD symptoms among 216 OIF/OEF veterans who had attended 1 of 17 Vets4Vets peer support weekend retreats. Vets4Vets is a national grassroots program whose mission is to improve the psychological well-being of returning OIF/OEF veterans. Analysis of posttest changes indicate the generalizability of previous research findings, based on other groups of trauma-affected groups, to OIF/OEF veterans. As predicted, increased perceived peer support and self-efficacy reduced PTSD symptoms. From a theoretical perspective, we found that both models of self-efficacy, situation-specific (Bandura, 1997; Benight & Bandura, 2004) and general self-efficacy (Schwarzer & Fuchs, 1996), mediated or explained the relationship between peer support and PTSD symptoms. Implications for social work are discussed.

Author Biographies

Ann MacEachron, Arizona State University

Professor, ASU, COPP, SSW

Nora Gustavsson, Arizona State Univ

Associate Professor, Arizona State University, College of Public Programs, School of Social Work