What is the Mental Health Service Utilisation & Perceived Barriers to Receiving Care in Deployed Soldiers?

Research Paper Title

Mental Health Service Utilization and Perceived Barriers to Receiving Care in Deployed Soldiers.

Background

Scant research has examined mental health treatment utilisation and barriers to care in deployed US soldiers.

This study aims to assess mental health treatment utilisation in deployed soldiers, including providers used and barriers to care.

Methods

US Army soldiers (n = 2,412) in a combat environment were surveyed on psychiatric symptoms, mental health help received, sources of care, and perceived barriers to care by Mental Health Advisory teams from 2009 to 2013.

Results

Of the 25% of soldiers at mental health risk, 37% received mental health help, with 18% receiving help from a provider.

Non-provider sources of care were utilised significantly more frequently than providers.

Soldiers at mental health risk reported significantly greater anticipated career-related stigma, organisational barriers to care, self-reliance views, and negative attitudes toward care, yet these constructs did not differ between who did or did not receive help.

Soldiers who received help from providers exclusively reported significantly more anticipated career-related stigma and fewer organisational barriers to care than those that received no help.

Soldiers who spent no time living outside the forward operating base and soldiers with six or more types of combat exposures were more likely to receive help.

Conclusions

Prevalence of common psychopathology and receipt of care in a combat environment was similar to previous reports from post-deployment settings.

Non-provider sources of care were more frequently utilised as compared to an in-Garrison report.

Findings suggest important differences exist in sources of help and barriers to care in deployed vs. post-deployment environments.

The hypothesised barriers to care did not preclude receiving any help, however, less than one-half of soldiers at mental health risk received help.

Thus, future research should identify factors that have the greatest influence on help seeking behaviour in both deployed and Garrison settings.

Reference

Nugent, K.L., Riviere, L.A., Sipos, M.L. & Wilk, J.E. (2020) Mental Health Service Utilization and Perceived Barriers to Receiving Care in Deployed Soldiers. Military Medicine. 185(5-6), pp.e625-e631. doi: 10.1093/milmed/usaa019.

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