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Female U.S. Military Veterans' (Non)Disclosure of Mental Health Issues with Family and Friends: Privacy Rules and Boundary Management.

Wilson SR, Hintz EA, MacDermid Wadsworth SM, Topp DB, Southwell KH, Spoont M. Female U.S. Military Veterans' (Non)Disclosure of Mental Health Issues with Family and Friends: Privacy Rules and Boundary Management. Health communication. 2021 Apr 1; 36(4):412-423.

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Grounded in communication privacy management (CPM) theory, this study explores the criteria female U.S. military veterans rely on when creating privacy rules regarding (non)disclosure of their mental health information with others as well as how female veterans manage privacy boundaries. Interviews with a diverse sample of 78 female veterans recently diagnosed with PTSD revealed examples of all five criteria for privacy rules proposed by CPM theory and illustrate how factors such as military culture, trauma, and risk/benefit assessments are interconnected. Female veterans also altered their boundary linkages, permeability, and control in response to tensions between revealing and concealing mental health information. Findings suggest the potential utility of drawing connections between tensions that motivate concealing/revealing and boundary management operations and highlight the need to further develop and evaluate programs such as peer support counseling within the Department of Veteran Affairs where female veterans can serve as support resources for their peers.

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