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Barriers and facilitators to behavioral healthcare for women veterans: A mixed-methods analysis of the current landscape

APA Citation:

Fitzke, R. E., Bouskill, K. E., Sedano, A., Tran, D. D., Saba, S. K., Buch, K., … Pedersen, E. R. (2024). Barriers and facilitators to behavioral healthcare for women veterans: A mixed-methods analysis of the current landscape. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 51, 164-184. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11414-023-09862-3

Abstract Created by REACH:

This mixed methods study examined Veterans’ use of Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA behavioral healthcare services, with a focus on women’s experiences. Veterans (n = 83 women, n = 882 men) completed surveys on their use of behavioral healthcare services in the past 6 months, barriers and facilitators to seeking treatment, as well as depressive and anxiety symptoms, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and alcohol use. 18 of the surveyed women were interviewed to provide additional context for the survey findings. Overall, women had higher rates of behavioral healthcare utilization (either VA or non-VA) and more probable mental health diagnoses than men.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Mixed Methods


Fitzke, Reagan E., Bouskill, Kathryn E., Sedano, Angeles, Tran, Denise D., Saba, Shaddy K., Buch, Keegan, Hummer, Justin F., Davis, Jordan P., Pedersen, Eric R.


Women veterans have historically faced barriers to behavioral health treatment, particularly through the VA. In conjunction, there have been changes in behavioral healthcare delivery resulting from efforts to improve care for women veterans and the COVID-19 pandemic (e.g., widespread telehealth implementation). The current study draws on a quantitative and qualitative study centering current perspectives of women veterans in their choices to seek or not seek behavioral healthcare in VA and non-VA settings through interviewing 18 women recruited from a larger survey study on veteran behavioral health (n = 83 women, n = 882 men) on their experiences with behavioral health care access and satisfaction, including barriers and facilitators to seeking care. Quantitative findings are descriptively reported from the larger study, which outlined screening for behavioral health problems, behavioral health utilization, treatment modality preferences, and barriers/facilitators to care. While women in the survey sample screened for various behavioral health disorders, rates of treatment seeking remained relatively low. Women reported positive and negative experiences with telehealth and endorsed many barriers to treatment seeking in interviews not captured by survey findings, including lack of women-specific care (e.g., care for military sexual trauma, women-only groups), reports of stranger harassment at the VA, and lack of female providers. Women veterans continue to face barriers to behavioral healthcare; however, ongoing efforts to improve care access and quality, including the implementation of telehealth, show promise in reducing these obstacles. Continued efforts are needed to ensure diverse treatment modalities continue to reach women veterans as this population grows.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:


Publication Type:

REACH Publication


public health, health psychology, community and environmental psychology, health promotion and disease prevention, health informatics, psychiatry

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  February 2024

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