ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 49 ›› Issue (5): 653-662.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00653

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Chinese military mental health at high altitude, 1993-2013: A cross-temporal meta-analysis of SCL-90

ZHAO Mengxue; FENG Zhengzhi; WANG Yichao; LAI Wei; HU Feng; LIU Keyu; XIA Fan; JIANG Juan; WANG Jia; XIA Lei   

  1. (School of Psychology, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China)
  • Received:2016-06-16 Published:2017-05-25 Online:2017-05-25
  • Contact: FENG Zhengzhi, E-mail:


The plateau is an important defense area for the Chinese military. Severe plateau environment and tense military tasks are sources of stress, which can cause physical and mental problems for military personnel. From the 1980s, psychological experts began to pay close attention to the plateau military mental health. However, many research studies on military mental health status at high altitude could not come to a consistent conclusion. Furthermore, no one knows how the Chinese military’s mental health at high altitude changes overtime. In order to resolve the controversies and to explore the regularity and changing characteristics overtime in Chinese military mental health at high altitude, a cross-temporal meta-analysis technique was employed. Thirty-eight articles from 1993 to 2013 focusing on military mental health at high altitude were selected and analyzed during this study, with the Symptom Checklist 90 (SCL-90) taken as the measuring tool. Only those that reported the sample size, mean, and standard deviation were selected. The thirty-eight articles encompass a total of 11,454 plateau military personnel. Each sample/article was coded according to the periodical type, plateau area, and nationality and was assigned either as an independent or control variables. The cross-temporal meta-analysis was used to analyze the changes of the nine factors of SCL-90 in times. Our results showed that the 7 factors of SCL-90 had a significantly negative correlation with age and was not related to journal types, plateau areas, or nationality. Also the mean value of the 7 factors decreased by 0.24~0.52, and the effective size d decreased from 0.45 to 0.84, the military psychological problems at high altitudes gradually reduced, and the mental health level increased year by year. The proportion of military spending to GDP during the year had a negative correlation with the 4 factors of SCL-90, while residents' consumption level index was significantly correlated with the 7 factors. Residents' consumption level from 5 years back was significantly correlated with the 7 factors and we found that consumption could predict the military mental health level within the plateau areas. Interpersonal sensitivity had a significant negative correlation with the divorce rate after 5 years. Military mental health at high altitudes during the last 20 years has experienced three stages, that of rising, fluctuating, and the stable period. Our results also showed that military mental health status at high altitude fluctuates, but the overall level has gradually improved; the factors of obsessive-compulsive, somatization, and depression have higher scores; and also, the construction of national defense economy and resident consumption level has a great impact on the military mental health level at high altitude.

Key words: military, mental health, high altitude, plateau, cross-temporal meta-analysis