Correlates of VA Mental Health Treatment Utilization Among OEF/OIF/OND Veterans: Resilience, Stigma, Social Support, Personality, and Beliefs About Treatment

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Veterans of Operations Iraqi Freedom/Enduring Freedom/New Dawn (OEF/OIF/OND) tend not to engage in mental health care. Identifying modifiable factors related to mental health service utilization could facilitate development of interventions to increase utilization. The current study examined the relationship between mental health care utilization and measures of PTSD symptoms, resilience, stigma, beliefs about mental health care, perceived barriers to mental health care, posttraumatic growth and meaning, social support, and personality factors in a sample of 100 OEF/OIF/OND veterans with PTSD symptoms referred to VA mental health care. Participants who received psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy (PP) scored higher on measures of PTSD symptoms, stigma, and adaptive beliefs about mental health treatment, and lower on measures of resilience, postdeployment social support, emotional stability, and conscientiousness, than participants who received no treatment (NT). Participants who received psychotherapy only (PT) scored higher on a measure of PTSD symptoms than NT participants. PT participants scored higher on an emotional stability measure and lower on measures of PTSD symptoms and stigma than PP participants. Multinomial logistic regression including all variables significantly related to treatment utilization indicated that PTSD symptoms and adaptive beliefs about psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy were higher in the PT and PP groups than in the NT group, and concerns about discrimination were higher in the PP group than the NT group. Interventions targeting beliefs about mental health care could increase mental health treatment utilization among OEF/OIF/OND veterans. Concerns about stigma may affect the utilization process differently at different decision points.

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