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Reducing Stigma in PTSD Treatment Seeking among Service Members: Pilot Intervention for Military Leaders

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Service members are at substantial risk for developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to trauma experienced during recent deployments. Studies have documented PTSD in 5 to 45 percent of military personnel. Yet research indicates that only 23 to 40 percent of service members seek treatment. Admitting to a psychological problem as opposed to a medical problem was found to be more stigmatizing to service members, and most believed that their military career would be harmed by admitting that they needed treatment. To improve our knowledge of stigma-related concerns, this study assessed the value of a one-hour briefing with 201 noncommissioned officers to document and influence their knowledge and attitudes about PTSD, treatment seeking, and effective treatments. After the briefing, among other findings, participants' belief about PTSD treatment effectiveness increased [t (171) = -4.73, p < 0.0001] and they had less uncertainty as to where to seek PTSD treatment [t (171) = -3.33, p < 0.001]. Findings from this study offer emerging evidence for using brief educational interventions to influence service members' beliefs about PTSD, treatment effectiveness, and willingness to seek treatment.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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