The Impact of Outward Bound Programming on Psychosocial Functioning for Male Military Veterans

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This pilot study examined male U.S. military veterans’ change in overall mental health symptoms after attending an Outward Bound for Veterans (OB4V) course. Two hundred and forty two male veterans, primarily serving in Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn were assigned to either a treatment group or a waitlist control group. Data were collected before and within 1 week after OB4V course attendance. Overall mental health symptoms (outcome) and level of conformity to masculine norms (moderator) were measured using the Outcomes Questionnaire-45 (OQ-45) total score and the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory. Results indicated participation in OB4V had a significant effect on veterans’ overall mental health symptoms. Conformity to traditional masculine norms did not moderate change in OQ-45 scores, suggesting veterans attain similar mental health improvement following OB4V regardless of conformity level (i.e., low, medium, or high) to masculine norms. Findings indicate that OB4V provides male veterans a therapeutic intervention to improve overall mental health symptoms. OB4V and similar therapeutic adventure approaches may provide a culture-centered approach to meet the unique needs of men and veterans.

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