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2012 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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2012 National Meeting

3070 — Barriers to Receiving MST-Related Care for Male Veterans: A Qualitative Analysis

Turchik JA, National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System; Rafie S, Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University; McLean C, VA Palo Alto Health Care System; Kimerling R, National Center for PTSD, VA Palo Alto Health Care System;

Previous research has found that male Veterans with MST are less likely to utilize MST-related mental health services compared to women with MST. Thus, the primary goal of this qualitative pilot study was to gain a better understanding of potential gender-related barriers to accessing MST-related care for male Veterans. A secondary goal was to explore gender-related preferences for MST-related mental health care in regards to psychoeducational materials and provider gender.

Twenty in-person interviews were conducted with male Veterans (age range = 26-77) from VA Palo Alto Health Care System who had screened positive for MST, and who had not received any MST-related mental health care. Eligible Veterans were invited to participate via mail and interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes. Qualitative analyses and binomial tests were used to examine the data.

A number of themes emerged in qualitatively analyzing Veterans’ interviews about potential barriers for men who might seek treatment for MST, including 1) lack of knowledge about services, 2) sexuality/sexual orientation concerns, 3) embarrassment regarding disclosure, 4) issues related to masculinity, and 5) belief that sexual trauma is a women’s issue. Regarding healthcare information preferences, Veterans believed that a MST brochure tailored for men presented the best information and would be more likely to encourage help-seeking than a gender-neutral brochure (all p’s <.01). Veterans were mixed on provider gender preferences, with 50% preferring a female provider, 25% a male provider, and 25% reporting no gender preference.

This preliminary data suggests that gender-related barriers exist for men regarding seeking MST-related care (e.g., masculinity, sexual orientation). Gender-specific healthcare information may be helpful in providing psychoeducation to male Veterans with MST.

Interventions to address these barriers and provide gender-specific information may increase access to care for male Veterans with MST.

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