A systematic review of enablers and barriers to help-seeking in veterans, with mental health and alcohol issues

Catherine Hitch, Cherie Armour, Jana Ross

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterpeer-review

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Background: Research remains unclear regarding veteran help-seeking; some veterans do help-seek whilst others do not. A possible cause of the unclear findings relates the research methods adopted, particularly the tendency to mix veterans with other populations within research studies. This is problematic because different populations experience different issues and face different help-seeking barriers /enablers. It would be advantageous to systematically review help-seeking literature relating to veterans only.

Methods: Searches were conducted across 15 databases. Search terms related to enablers, barriers, veterans, alcohol, mental health and help-seeking. A narrative synthesis approach was adopted for data analysis.

Results: From 1,658 studies ten met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The number of individual barriers and enablers identified was 39, 29 of which were statistically significant. There were more enablers than barriers. PTSD was the item with the highest number of enablement endorsements, followed by depression, income and social support. Findings relating to alcohol were unclear. Attitudes, as a category, had the most items, most of which were dually endorsed. Most studies were of fair quality, although none were without limitation. The variety of scales used (30) created the large number of enablers and barriers. Some differences in study design made comparison difficult. The majority of studies were cross-sectional, American and participants were mainly Caucasian Army veterans. Half the studies recruited via Veteran Affairs. Some limitations relate to generalisability.

Conclusions: Findings overall align with existing research. Attitudes are important for help-seeking behaviour but further research regarding attitude formation is needed. Close attention also needs to be paid to research design.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventEuropean Conference of Mental Health - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 02 Oct 201906 Oct 2019


ConferenceEuropean Conference of Mental Health
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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