Exploring the importance of predisposing, enabling, and need factors for promoting Veteran engagement in mental health therapy for post‑traumatic stress : a multiple methods study


This study explored Veteran and family member perspectives on factors that drive post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) therapy engagement within constructs of the Andersen model of behavioral health service utilization. Despite efforts by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to increase mental health care access, the proportion of Veterans with PTSD who engage in PTSD therapy remains low. Support for therapy from family members and friends could improve Veteran therapy use.




We applied a multiple methods approach using data from VA administrative data and semi-structured individual interviews with Veterans and their support partners who applied to the VA Caregiver Support Program. We integrated findings from a machine learning analysis of quantitative data with findings from a qualitative analysis of the semi-structured interviews.




In quantitative models, Veteran medical need for health care use most influenced treatment initiation and retention. However, qualitative data suggested mental health symptoms combined with positive Veteran and support partner treatment attitudes motivated treatment engagement. Veterans indicated their motivation to seek treatment increased when family members perceived treatment to be of high value. Veterans who experienced poor continuity of VA care, group, and virtual treatment modalities expressed less care satisfaction. Prior marital therapy use emerged as a potentially new facilitator of PTSD treatment engagement that warrants more exploration.




Our multiple methods findings represent Veteran and support partner perspectives and show that amid Veteran and organizational barriers to care, attitudes and support of family members and friends still matter. Family-oriented services.

Megan Shepherd‑Banigan, Abigail Shapiro, Karen M. Stechuchak, Kate L. Sheahan, Princess E. Ackland, Valerie A. Smith, Barbara G. Bokhour, Shirley M. Glynn, Patrick S. Calhoun, David Edelman, Hollis J. Weidenbacher, Madeleine R. Eldridge and Courtney H. Van Houtven | 2023
In: BMC Psychiatry ; ISSN: 1471-244X | 23 | may | 372
Health Care Utilization, Mental health, Methodology, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Predisposition, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Social Support, Treatment, Veterans