Mental health utilization of new-to-care Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans following suicidal ideation assessment

Lauren M Denneson, Kathryn Corson, Drew A Helmer, Matthew J Bair, Steven K Dobscha
Psychiatry Research 2014 July 30, 217 (3): 147-53
We evaluated the impact of brief structured suicidal ideation (SI) assessments on mental health care among new-to-care Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) veterans. National datasets provided military, demographic, and clinical information. For all new-to-care OEF/OIF veterans administered depression screens (PHQ-2: Patient Health Questionnaire-2) and structured SI assessments in primary care or ambulatory mental health settings of three Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers between April 2008 and September 2009 (N=465), generalized estimating equations were used to examine associations between SI and number of subsequent-year specialty mental health visits and antidepressant prescriptions. Approximately one-third of the veterans reported SI. In multivariate models, PTSD and anxiety diagnoses, severe depression symptoms, being married, and SI assessment by a mental health clinician were associated with more mental health visits in the subsequent year. Depression, PTSD, and anxiety diagnoses, and SI assessment by a mental health clinician were associated with receiving antidepressants. Presence of SI did not significantly affect subsequent year mental health utilization when adjusting for diagnostic and clinician variables, but inaugural visits involving mental health clinicians were consistently associated with subsequent mental health care.

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