A survey of perceived barriers and attitudes toward mental health care among OEF/OIF veterans at VA outpatient mental health clinics

Mil Med. 2014 Mar;179(3):273-8. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00076.


Objective: In an effort to improve our understanding of perceived treatment barriers among veterans of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) relative to other era veterans, the current study examined veteran attitudes and beliefs about mental health treatment and treatment-seeking, and perceived patient and institution-level logistical barriers to care.

Method: A survey was conducted among 434 Combat veterans seeking care in nine Veterans Affairs mental health care outpatient clinics.

Results: When compared to Vietnam and Gulf War veterans, OEF/OIF veterans were significantly more likely to endorse negative treatment attitudes as possible barriers to care. OEF/OIF veterans were also more likely than Vietnam veterans to endorse conflicting work demands as a potential barrier, although this was the only logistical barrier for which OEF/OIF veterans' responses differed significantly from those of veterans of other eras. Among OEF/OIF veterans, older veterans were more likely than younger veterans to endorse barriers related to cost and time commitments.

Conclusions: These findings suggest an important role for outreach and engagement strategies that address attitudinal barriers to treatment utilization among veteran populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Veterans / psychology*