Talk to the Veterans Crisis Line now
U.S. flag
An official website of the United States government

VA Health Systems Research

Go to the VA ORD website
Go to the QUERI website

HSR&D Citation Abstract

Search | Search by Center | Search by Source | Keywords in Title

OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Women Veteran Barriers to Mental Healthcare: Deployment & Provider Effects

Mengeling M, Booth B, Torner J, Sadler AG. OEF/OIF Reserve and National Guard Women Veteran Barriers to Mental Healthcare: Deployment & Provider Effects. Paper presented at: VA HSR&D National Meeting; 2011 Feb 18; National Harbor, MD.


Objectives: Determine if deployment status is associated with greater self-reported barriers to mental health (MH) care. Methods: 665 women participated in a cross-sectional study of current health, health risk behaviors, and care utilization. OEF/OIF-era Reserve and National Guard (R/NG) women Veterans were sampled from five Midwestern states and stratified by deployment (never deployed, deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, deployed elsewhere). Results: Deployed participants (n = 521) were more likely to believe MH prescriptions could interfere with their job performance (48%v35%; OR = 1.41 (1.00-1.99)); to know where to receive counseling while in the R/NG (87%v74%; OR = 2.33, 1.49-3.66); and to believe their unit wouldn't lose confidence in them if they sought MH care (49%v38%; OR 1.36, .96-1.92) relative to non-deployed peers. Those deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan were less-likely to believe that seeking MH care treatment would harm their career than those deployed elsewhere (32%v41%; OR = .61, .43-.86). Half of women deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan had concerns their MH care would not remain confidential while deployed. Almost half (47.1%) said they would informally talk with an off-duty healthcare provider if they had a physical or MH concern during deployment. Those who believed their care would not remain confidential were more likely to endorse presenting a physical complaint to see a provider in order to bring up MH concerns (50%v35%; p < .01). Implications: Deployed R/NG personnel reported knowing where to seek MH care and were less concerned about unit reaction than their non-deployed counterparts. However, they were less likely to seek care because of concerns about prescription effects on job performance. Those deployed to Iraq/Afghanistan reported that they would present with a physical health complaint in order to seek MH care. Seeking physical and mental healthcare from off-duty providers was another care seeking method of deployed personnel. Impacts: R/NG servicewomen who have been deployed (compared to those who haven't) report unique barriers and facilitators to MH care. VA primary care clinicians must be educated that deployed R/NG servicewomen may have concerns about confidentiality and if so are acculturated to access MH care by presentation with physical complaints. Deployed healthcare providers may be a high risk population for burnout or secondary traumatization.

Questions about the HSR website? Email the Web Team

Any health information on this website is strictly for informational purposes and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any condition.