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Mil Med. 2013 Jul;178(7):775-84. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00012.

Gender differences in combat medic mental health services utilization, barriers, and stigma.

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  • 1James A Haley Veterans Hospital, Research Section, 13000 Bruce B Downs Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


Military health care providers experience considerable stressors related to their exposure to death and traumatic injuries in others. This study used survey data from 799 active duty U.S. Army Combat Medics deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom. Military experiences, combat exposures, and mental health care seeking of active duty Combat Medics were explored and compared across both genders. Barriers to care were also assessed. Male and female Combat Medics reported surprisingly similar experiences, exposures, and health issues. Overall, results indicate no striking differences in barriers for females compared to their male counterparts, suggesting the barriers to utilization of mental health services may be consistent across gender. Although medics endorsed barriers and stigma related to mental health counseling services, they still sought these health services. Female and male medics who endorsed barriers were more likely to report seeking services than those who did not endorse barriers. This study provides an initial description of utilization of mental health counseling services for U.S. Army Combat Medics, the majority of whom were involved in combat operations in Afghanistan or Iraq. Our findings indicate that comprehensive assessment of the military experiences and combat exposures is needed to appreciate their potential influence on military health care providers.

Reprint & Copyright © 2013 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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