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Relationship between substance use and attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help among veterans filing PTSD claims.

Meshberg-Cohen S, Kachadourian L, Black AC, Rosen MI. Relationship between substance use and attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help among veterans filing PTSD claims. Addictive Behaviors. 2017 Nov 1; 74:9-12.

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INTRODUCTION: Veterans in distress often do not seek mental health treatment, even when such services are available. Substance use may further undermine treatment-seeking, given its association with negative treatment views. This study examined attitudes towards seeking psychological help in a sample of veterans diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with and without co-occurring substance use disorders (SUD). METHODS: Altogether, 143 male OEF/OIF veterans filing service-connected benefits claims for PTSD completed the Attitudes Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help-Short Form (ATSPPH-SF) and other baseline assessments. Treatment attitudes were compared among veterans with (n = 34) and without (n = 109) SUD using ANCOVA, controlling for demographic covariates. Post-hoc ANCOVA compared means on the two ATSPPH-SF subscales: Openness to Seeking Treatment, and Value/Need in Seeking Treatment. RESULTS: Overall, ATSPPH-SF scores were similar to those reported in other samples of young men. Controlling for demographic covariates, veterans with co-occurring SUD held significantly less favorable attitudes towards seeking help than veterans without comorbid SUD. In subscale analyses, valuation of treatment was significantly lower among veterans with SUDs, but openness towards treatment was not. CONCLUSIONS: Substance-using veterans' lower valuation of treatment may reflect opinions that problems resolve on their own, psychotherapy is ineffective, or concerns that SUDs complicate treatment. Thus an approach towards engaging these veterans in treatment that addresses a general skepticism towards the value of psychological help is warranted.

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