Mental Health Service Use amongst Veterans in a Peer-Mentor Intervention: An Analysis of Barriers to Treatment

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Many returning Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans may benefit from psychological services as recent estimates suggest high rates of suicide, trauma, and psychopathology within this population. However, only a small portion of veterans ever seek mental health services, presumably due to various barriers to treatment. A better understanding of barriers to treatment may ensure that these populations seek the services they require. Data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a peer-mentor program was examined to assess the extent to which common barriers to treatment precluded veterans from requesting medical or mental health assistance. The relationship between elevated scores on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol misuse measures was examined as they relate to veterans’ choices to seek assistance with health care, along with score profiles on a variety of measures (including quality of life, somatization, combat exposure, and demographic variables). Results indicated that having PTSD was a significant predictor of health service seeking, although this relationship was no longer significant once quality of life was added into analyses. Alcohol misuse and combat exposure were not significantly predictive of seeking health services, while elevated somatic symptoms were. Cumulative disadvantage theory is used to explore these findings and treatment implications.

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Military Behavioral Health

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