Mental health treatment: Post-9/11 veteran men were found not to seek mental health treatment even when they needed it because of Relationship problems (difficulty managing expectations and requirements within an intimate relationship), while women, on the other hand, came forward because of it.
Relationship impairment (difficulty managing expectations and requirements within an intimate relationship) plays a role in explaining the association between symptom severity and those seeking treatment among post-9/11 military veterans. However, the role it plays is different for men and women.
In men, relationship impairment appears to interfere with seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, whereas, for women, it may facilitate treatment seeking. These findings may partially explain widely demonstrated sex differences in those seeking treatment.
They found that in men, treatment seeking was reduced when accompanied by high relationship impairment. For women, relationship impairment acted as a mediator of the positive association between PTSD symptom severity and service use.
According to the researchers, the finding that relationship impairment interfered with treatment seeking for men but facilitated treatment seeking for women may help explain widely demonstrated sex differences in treatment seeking.
"These results underscore the importance of attending to the role of relationship impairment in veterans' treatment seeking and highlight the value of implementing gender-informed approaches to treatment promotion efforts," explained corresponding author Dawne S. Vogt, PhD, research psychologist in the Women's Health Sciences Division, National Center for PTSD at the VA Boston Healthcare System and associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM.
While the researchers cannot be sure why this sex difference emerged, they believe it is possible that this finding is due to the different role that relationships often play in women's and men's lives, including women's greater attunement to and emphasis on relationships.