JOURNAL ARTICLE

Stigma and demographic correlates of help-seeking intentions in returning service members

Rebecca K Blais, Keith D Renshaw
Journal of Traumatic Stress 2013, 26 (1): 77-85
23335155
Many U.S. Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans return from deployment with posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, but few veterans seek psychological help. Research on barriers to care is growing, but the link between stigma and help-seeking is understudied. The present study examined anticipated enacted stigma from military and nonmilitary sources, self-stigma, PTS, perceived likelihood of deploying again, marital status, and history of mental health care engagement as correlates of help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional or medical doctor/advance practice registered nurse (MD/APRN) in a sample of 165 combat veterans. Using structural equation modeling, results demonstrated that self-stigma was negatively associated with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional and MD/APRN with small-to-medium effect sizes. Being married was positively associated with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional and MD/APRN with small effect sizes. History of previous mental health care engagement was positively associated with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional with a medium effect size, but unrelated to help-seeking intentions from a MD/APRN. Anticipated enacted stigma from any source, PTS, and greater perceived likelihood of deploying again were unrelated to help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional and MD/APRN. Implications for interventions aimed at decreasing self-stigma and increasing intention to seek help are discussed.

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