1110 — Online Interventions for Female OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard War Veterans
Sadler AG, Iowa City VA Healthcare System; Mengeling MA, University of Iowa, Iowa City VA Healthcare System; Erschens H, and Franciscus C, Iowa City VA Healthcare System; Smith J, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System & University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; Torner JC, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine; Booth BM, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System & University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences;
1) To determine the feasibility of online mental health screening using a tailored questionnaire assessing post-deployment mental health disorders, and 2) To determine user perceptions about the online instrument, and access to and acceptability of available VA mental health (MH) treatments among participants screening positive for MH conditions.
: Defense Manpower Data Center identified a Mid-Western sample of Reserve and National Guard (RNG) servicewomen returning from deployment to Iraq and/or Afghanistan in the 24 months preceding study participation. Phase 1 of this study included development and implementation of a web-based survey of post-deployment MH and readjustment disorders with educational information tailored to each participant’s responses (n = 131). Phase 2 involved a follow-up telephone interview (n = 37) with women screening positive for any MH concern to determine their perceptions of 1) using the internet for MH information, 2) the survey and tailored information, and 3) VA MH care.
Post-deployment MH problems were common, including: combat trauma (95%), prescription drug abuse (54%), military sexual trauma (50%), PTSD (41%), depression (37%), family adjustment issues (30%), substance abuse (13%), domestic violence (11%), and traumatic brain injury (10%). Most (48%) participants had 3-4 positive screens. Almost a third (32%) reported that the information they received reduced their discomfort with seeking MH care and 38% indicated that they would subsequently seek assessment from a VA provider and 26% would from a non-VA provider. The majority of participants (74%) indicated they preferred to receive VA information through e-mail. Almost half (48%) indicated this web-based intervention provided them with information that they might not have received otherwise. Most (74%) participants would recommend this survey to other military women. Key reasons reported for why women don’t use VA MH care included stigma and lack of knowledge about VA women’s health services.
This study demonstrated that web-based MH interventions are possible to implement and are considered desirable by high risk RNG service women post-deployment.
Given the well-recognized stigma of seeking mental health services, VA must move beyond traditional avenues for engaging RNG servicewomen and providing needed MH services. A successful online intervention tailored to individuals’ needs for specific services may represent an effective and relatively low cost care approach.