Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
The recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reignited concerns about the many negative health consequences associated with combat. It is estimated that only 38-45% of returning service members who screen positive for a mental disorder indicate any interest in receiving treatment, even though service personnel typically acknowledge the existence of mental disorders such as PTSD, as well as the value of treatment. While many barriers have been identified that are thought to contribute to this lack of treatment seeking, one major barrier within the military is stigma. This review analyzed the literature in several fields and developed a set of recommendations for the content and evaluation of an intervention designed to reduce the type(s) of stigma that creates barriers for effective identification and treatment of combat-related psychological disorders. The review began with the exploration of the role of stigma in deterring soldiers from responding positively to efforts to identify and treat mental health problems such as PTSD, mood disorder, and substance abuse. Then both the military and civilian literature pertaining to effective programs for stigma reduction in areas related to mental illness were analyzed in order to identify key components within these programs that contributed to their success. A major part of translating the findings from these reviews into a stigma reduction program that would likely be effective in military settings was the development and application of specific criteria for selecting already existing programs on the basis of a reasonable balance between (1) methodological rigor that helps establish internal validity; and (2) potential applicability to military settings, that is, external validity. The project concludes with a recommendation for the creation and evaluation of a US military specific anti-stigma program.
O'Brien, Kevin, "Stigma as a Barrier to Care in the United States Military: Recommendations for a Military-Specific Stigma Reduction Program" (2012). Honors Theses. 71.