Veterans’ perceptions about their need for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a motivating factor in seeking treatment, but friends and family can also have a substantial impact on influencing their loved one to seek care. That’s the finding from the study, “Impact of Treatment Beliefs and Social Network Encouragement on Initiation of Care by VA Service Users With PTSD,” which is published online in Psychiatric Services in Advance.
Researchers at the Center for Chronic Disease Outcomes Research at the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center conducted a prospective, national cohort study of mental health care use among by 7,645 veterans recently diagnosed with PTSD. Data from self-administered surveys and administrative databases were analyzed to assess contributions of treatment-related beliefs and social-network encouragement to seek subsequent mental health care use, after facility, demographic, need, and access factors were controlled.
VA service users who perceived a need for PTSD treatment were more likely to initiate care and to hold positive beliefs about psychotherapy or antidepressants. These veterans also showed increased odds of taking steps to receive the respective treatment. In addition, when veterans received social-network encouragement from friends or family to get mental health care, it increased the odds the vet would follow through and begin treatment.
“VA service users’ social networks, veterans’ perceptions of their need for mental health care, and their beliefs about PTSD treatment effectiveness may be fruitful targets for future treatment engagement interventions,” the researchers emphasized.