Combination outreach and wellness intervention for distressed rural veterans: results of a multimethod pilot study

J Behav Med. 2021 Aug;44(4):440-453. doi: 10.1007/s10865-020-00177-8. Epub 2020 Sep 17.


We partnered with veteran-serving nonprofits in order to identify distressed rural veterans and provide them with a mental health workshop in community-based settings. Community organizations helped recruit veterans and provided space for 1-day (5-h) Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) group workshops conducted in rural locations. Qualitative interviews were conducted at 1- and 3-months post-intervention to assess acceptability. Quantitative measures were conducted at baseline, 1- and 3-months post-intervention to measure effectiveness. We successfully engaged community partners throughout every stage of the research and delivered workshops to thirty-one veterans in rural community-based locations. Veterans appreciated the structure, content, and environment of the workshops; most implemented ACT skills into their daily lives and some initiated new treatment following workshop participation. Quantitative measures showed improvements in functioning (Cohen's d ranging from .27 to .40), reintegration (Cohen's d = .45), meaning and purpose (Cohen's d = .40), and reductions in distress (Cohen's d ranging from .28 to .40) 3-months following workshop participation. Collaborating with rural veteran-serving nonprofit organizations holds promise for engaging hard-to-reach distressed veterans in mental health care.

Keywords: Acceptance and commitment therapy; Community engagement; Qualitative; Rural; Veterans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Rural Population
  • Veterans*