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Pastoral care use among post-9/11 veterans who screen positive for mental health problems.

Nieuwsma JA, Fortune-Greeley AK, Jackson GL, Meador KG, Beckham JC, Elbogen EB. Pastoral care use among post-9/11 veterans who screen positive for mental health problems. Psychological Services. 2014 Aug 1; 11(3):300-8.

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As a result of their military experience, veterans with mental health problems may have unique motivations for seeking help from clergy. Patterns and correlates of seeking pastoral care were examined using a nationwide representative survey that was conducted among veterans of post-9/11 conflicts (adjusted N = 1,068; 56% response rate). Separate multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine veteran characteristics associated with seeking pastoral care and seeking mental health services. Among post-9/11 veterans with a probable mental disorder (n = 461)-defined as a positive screen for posttraumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, or alcohol misuse-20.2% reported talking to a "pastoral counselor" in the preceding year, 44.7% reported talking to a mental health professional, and 46.6% reported talking to neither. In a multivariate analysis for veterans with a probable mental disorder, seeing a pastoral counselor was associated with an increased likelihood of seeing a mental health professional in the past year (OR: 2.16; 95% CI: [1.28, 3.65]). In a separate bivariate analysis, pastoral counselors were more likely to be seen by veterans who indicated concerns about stigma or distrust of mental health care. These results suggest that pastoral and mental health care services may complement one another and underscore the importance of enhancing understanding and collaboration between these disciplines so as to meet the needs of the veterans they serve.

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