Adapting the Cultural Formulation Interview for the Military

Psychiatr Serv. 2022 Sep 1;73(9):978-983. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2022 Feb 23.


Objective: U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families increasingly seek care from providers with limited knowledge of military culture. The 16-item core DSM-5 Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) was designed to integrate cultural factors into assessment and treatment of mental disorders. Although the CFI was designed for use with all patients, it is unknown whether the CFI adequately assesses military culture. The authors describe a methodology to determine the need for specific CFI versions and how to create a version for use with persons affiliated with the military.

Methods: Published articles on cultural competence in the military were systematically reviewed. Cultural domains were abstracted from each article, inductively coded, and hierarchically organized for assessment against the core CFI. A military CFI was created with additional implementation instructions, questions, and probes when the core CFI was inadequate for eliciting relevant cultural domains.

Results: Sixty-three articles were included. Coding revealed 22 military culture domains, of which only five would be elicited in the core CFI without additional guidance. Twelve of 16 questions in the core CFI required additional instructions, five benefited from question edits, and 10 needed additional probing questions. On the basis of these results, the authors crafted a military version of the CFI for service members, veterans, and their families.

Conclusions: The military CFI for clinicians assesses aspects of military culture that are not comprehensively evaluated through the core CFI. The development process described in this article may inform the creation of other versions when the core CFI does not comprehensively assess cultural needs for specific populations.

Keywords: Cultural Formulation Interview; Cultural competence; Military; Military psychiatry; Veterans.

MeSH terms

  • Cultural Competency
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders* / therapy
  • Military Personnel*
  • Veterans*