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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mental health treatment utilization in OIF/OEF National Guard and Reserve troops with and without DSM diagnoses.

  • Author(s): Primack, Jennifer M
  • Borsari, Brian
  • Benz, Madeline B
  • Reddy, Madhavi K
  • Shea, M Tracie
  • et al.

Military service members have an increased risk of developing mental health (MH) problems following deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, yet only a small percentage seek mental health treatment. The aim of the present study was to explore patterns of MH service utilization within the first 12 months following return from combat deployment. Participants were 169 service members who had returned from war-zone deployment in either Iraq or Afghanistan and had assessments covering a 12-month period following their homecoming. The authors first examined the prevalence of mental health diagnoses and engagement with mental health treatment (e.g., visits to the emergency room, inpatient hospitalization, individual therapy, group therapy, family or couple therapy, medication appointments, and self-help). Regression analyses explored whether distress, functioning, diagnoses, or social support predicted treatment use. Findings indicated that 28 of 50 military service members (56%) who met diagnostic criteria for a mental health disorder accessed services in the year following their return from deployment. Individual treatment was the most common modality, and those with major depressive disorder (MDD) reported the most treatment contacts. Social support was not associated with use of mental health services. Baseline functioning and psychiatric distress predicted entry into treatment whereas only psychiatric distress predicted amount of mental health service use in the 12-month postdeployment period. Findings highlight the need for enhanced strategies to link those reporting psychiatric distress with MH treatment services and increase community connectedness regardless of whether they meet full criteria for a mental health diagnosis. (PsycINFO Database Record

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