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An Online Peer Educational Campaign to Reduce Stigma and Improve Help Seeking in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Hamblen JL, Grubaugh AL, Davidson TM, Borkman AL, Bunnell BE, Ruggiero KJ. An Online Peer Educational Campaign to Reduce Stigma and Improve Help Seeking in Veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Telemedicine journal and e-health : the official journal of the American Telemedicine Association. 2019 Jan 1; 25(1):41-47.

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BACKGROUND: Although at least 1 in 10 veterans meet criteria for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to their military service, treatment seeking is strikingly low due to perceived stigma and other barriers. The National Center for PTSD produced AboutFace, a web-based video gallery of veterans with PTSD who share their personal stories about PTSD and how treatment has turned their lives around. INTRODUCTION: We conducted a two-stage evaluation of AboutFace, which included (1) a usability testing phase and (2) a randomized, controlled trial phase to explore the feasibility of incorporating AboutFace into a specialized outpatient clinic for PTSD. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Twenty veterans participated in the usability testing phase in which they answered moderator posed questions regarding AboutFace, while actively exploring the website. Sixty veterans participated in the study after completing a PTSD clinic evaluation and were randomized to receive an educational booklet about PTSD treatment or AboutFace before starting treatment. Stigma and attitudes about treatment seeking were assessed at baseline and 2 weeks later. RESULTS: Veterans had positive attitudes about AboutFace and gave suggestions for improvement. Veterans in both conditions reported improved attitudes toward mental illness and treatment seeking from baseline to the 2-week follow-up. DISCUSSION: AboutFace is a promising peer-to-peer approach that can be used to challenge stigma and promote help seeking. CONCLUSIONS: This use of an online peer approach is innovative, relevant to a wide range of healthcare conditions, and has the potential to increase access to care through trusted narratives that promote hope in recovery.

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