258422 Military Wives Matter: An Internet-based study of military wives' mental health status and barriers to treatment

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Bentson McFarland, MD, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Colleen Lewy, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Celina Oliver, PhD , Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR
Background: Military wives can find spouse deployment difficult but may not seek mental health support. Services provided via the Internet could assist this population.

Methods: Following extensive qualitative work with the military family community, an Internet-based program was created to identify military wives who may have major depressive disorder. Recruitment employed social media such as Facebook. Female military spouses were asked to complete the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D) scale, the general psychological distress (Kessler-6) scale, and a questionnaire on barriers to mental health care.

Results: Women (N = 569, ages 18 to 56) were recruited from 45 states and 8 foreign countries. Participants' husbands (83% enlisted, 87% on active duty) represented all armed services branches. Many participants were unemployed (37%) and struggling financially (26%). Most (78%) women reported depression with the majority (51%) scoring above CES-D cutoff for major depressive disorder, while 37% reported Kessler-6 levels suggesting serious mental illness. Many (44%) military wives also reported un-addressed mental health needs. Barriers to treatment included logistical challenges (e.g., childcare) as well as military culture. The most commonly cited barriers included inability to attend daytime appointments (38%), inability to find a counselor who understands the needs of military spouses (35%), inability to find a counselor the participant felt she could trust (29%), concerns about confidentiality (29%), and lack of knowledge about where to get services (25%).

Conclusions: Military spouses represent an under-served population with unique needs. The Internet may be a useful vehicle for providing mental health services to this group.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Discuss mental health needs of military wives Describe military wives' concerns about mental health services List barriers limiting military wives' access to mental health care

Keywords: Mental Health Services, Internet

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am principal investigator of the federally funded research to be presented. My research addresses access to and quality of care for people with behavioral health problems.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.