Getting beyond "Don't ask; don't tell": an evaluation of US Veterans Administration postdeployment mental health screening of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan

Karen H Seal, Daniel Bertenthal, Shira Maguen, Kristian Gima, Ann Chu, Charles R Marmar
American Journal of Public Health 2008, 98 (4): 714-20

OBJECTIVES: We sought to evaluate outcomes of the Veterans Administration (VA) Afghan and Iraq Post-Deployment Screen for mental health symptoms.

METHODS: Veterans Administration clinicians were encouraged to refer Iraq or Afghanistan veterans who screened positive for posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or high-risk alcohol use to a VA mental health clinic. Multivariate methods were used to determine predictors of screening, the proportions who screened positive for particular mental health problems, and predictors of VA mental health clinic attendance.

RESULTS: Among 750 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were referred to a VA medical center and 5 associated community clinics, 338 underwent postdeployment screening; 233 (69%) screened positive for mental health problems. Having been seen in primary care (adjusted odd ratio [AOR]=13.3; 95% confidence interval [CI]=8.31, 21.3) and at a VA community clinic (AOR=3.28; 95% CI=2.03, 5.28) predicted screening. African American veterans were less likely to have been screened than were White veterans (AOR=0.45; 95% CI=0.22, 0.91). Of 233 veterans who screened positive, 170 (73%) completed a mental health follow-up visit.

CONCLUSIONS: A substantial proportion of veterans met screening criteria for co-occurring mental health problems, suggesting that the VA screens may help overcome a "don't ask, don't tell" climate that surrounds stigmatized mental illness. Based on data from 1 VA facility, VA postdeployment screening increases mental health clinic attendance among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"