Testing the Effects of Using a Behavioral Health Provider to Deliver a Routine Post-Deployment Assessment for Soldiers Returning From Combat

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Studies indicate that changes in postdeployment behavioral health care delivery are necessary to improve symptom-reporting and treatment-seeking. The present study compared two behavioral health strategies implemented during the Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA) with soldiers within the first months of returning from a combat deployment. A quasi-experimental, longitudinal study compared soldiers (N = 1,612) interviewed by a behavioral health (BH) provider and soldiers (N = 1,326) interviewed by a primary care provider using the standard PDHA procedure. Surveys pre- and post-PDHA and four months later assessed treatment-seeking attitudes; PDHA data and BH clinic use were compiled and compared by each interview strategy. Soldiers interviewed by a BH provider rated interview usefulness, quality, and comfort reporting BH concerns more positively than soldiers interviewed by a primary care provider using the standard procedure. However, there were no differences in treatment-seeking attitudes, provider referral rates, or use of BH services in the 4 months after the PDHA. Although there were initial positive reports of the interview with the BH Provider, there was no evidence BH provider interviews resulted in any lasting improvements in treatment-seeking or long-term treatment attitudes.

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