Biological attributions for postdeployment distress relate to higher likelihood of seeking mental health treatment in Iraq/Afghanistan service members/veterans

Rebecca K. Blais, Keith Renshaw, Danielle Christensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Service members/veterans (SM/Vs) underuse mental health care. Attribution theory suggests that attributions for psychological distress might inform help-seeking. Given recent mental health campaigns leveraging military values aimed at facilitating help-seeking for postdeployment distress, understanding how SM/Vs explain psychological distress may contribute to a better grasp of the low help-seeking rate in this population. The authors examined the association of biological and psychological attributions for postdeployment distress with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional and medical doctor in 162 Iraq/Afghanistan SM/Vs. At the bivariate level, biological attributions were positively associated with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional and medical doctor with small effect sizes. Psychological attributions were unrelated to help-seeking intentions from either provider. Path analysis revealed that biological attributions were positively correlated with help-seeking intentions from a medical doctor with a small effect size above and beyond the effects of psychological attributions and correlates. Biological attributions were also positively correlated with help-seeking intentions from a mental health professional with a small effect size but the significance value only trended toward significance (p = .06). Emphasizing the role of biology in postdeployment distress may promote help-seeking in SM/Vs, particularly help-seeking from medical professionals. Interventions that test the effectiveness of promoting biological explanations in campaigns aimed at increasing help-seeking may be a necessary next step in this area of inquiry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-86
Number of pages8
JournalMilitary Psychology
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • attributions
  • help-seeking
  • military
  • Trauma
  • veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)

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