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HSR&D 2004 National Meeting Abstracts

2001. Needs Assessment and Barriers to Treatment in Kosovo Peacekeepers
Shira Maguen, PhD, VA Boston Healthcare System, BT Litz, VA Boston Healthcare System

Objectives: Our goals were: (1) to assess basic, physical, and mental health needs of peacekeepers; (2) to determine barriers to mental health treatment-seeking; and (3) to examine the military service/demographic, mission-stressor, and psychological predictors of the barriers to mental healthcare.

Methods: Active-duty peacekeepers completed a survey prior to and following their deployment to Kosovo (n=203). The pre-deployment survey contained questions about age, rank, and pre-deployment post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The post-deployment survey included questions pertaining to duty-related potentially traumatizing events, post-deployment PTSD symptoms, needs assessment, and barriers to care.

Results: Nine percent of peacekeepers reported needing help with controlling their anger or hostility, 6% reported needing help with depression, and 5% reported needing help with deployment-related stress. Additionally, 23% reported concern about what others might think if they sought help, 20% reported concern about access to mental health services, and 18% stated that seeing a professional was inconvenient. The most robust predictors of mental health treatment barriers were pre- and post-deployment PTSD symptoms.

Conclusions: Peacekeepers report a number of treatment needs and barriers that could prevent them from receiving care. The soldiers most in need of services are also those that report the highest number of barriers to care.

Impact: Soldiers should be screened for stress and PTSD symptoms soon after deployment and referred to mental health treatment if necessary. Barriers that may prevent follow through with treatment should be redressed by the DoD and the VA to provide peacekeepers with timely and effective care.