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Training needs among nonmental health professionals working with service members: A qualitative investigation

APA Citation:

Baier, A. L., Marques, L., Borba, C. P. C., Kelly, H., Clair-Hayes, K., Dixon De Silva, L., Chow, L. K., & Simon, N. M. (2019). Training needs among nonmental health professionals working with service members: A qualitative investigation. Military Psychology, 31(1), 71–80. https://doi.org/10.1080/08995605.2018.1541392

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined the training needs of non-mental health professionals (e.g., emergency medical services, police, physical therapists, nurses) to (1) identify gaps within current training programs and (2) inform the development of trainings to provide greater competency when working with Veterans. 42 non-mental health professionals engaged in semi-structured, profession-specific focus groups to assess their training related to military knowledge and experiences. Thematic analysis was used to identify four themes focusing on training areas that could enhance the competency of non-mental health professionals working with Veterans.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Coast Guard
Marine Corps
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:



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


Qualitative Study


Baier, Allison L., Marques, Luana, Borba, Christina P. C., Kelly, Hope, Clair-Hayes, Katherine, Dixon De Silva, Louise, Chow, Louis K., Simon, Naomi M.


Though many service members will not directly seek mental health care due to stigma and other factors, they may interact with the healthcare system in other ways including contact with first responders, nurses, and allied health care professionals. However, little attention has been spent in this regard on the educational needs of these professionals whose contact with service members and Veterans may provide the opportunity to assist Veterans in need with overcoming barriers to accessing mental health care. This qualitative study investigates the educational training needs of first responders and health care professionals in contact with military families and trauma survivors to determine whether, and what type, of additional training is needed. A sample of 42 first responders and health care professionals including emergency medical technicians, police officers, fire fighters, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and nurses were recruited to participate in 1 of 6 focus groups. Sessions were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis was guided by a thematic analysis approach. Thematic analyses suggest there is a significant knowledge gap with unmet educational needs of these professionals such as information on the invisible wounds of war, military culture, and screening and referring patients who present symptoms falling outside professionals' scope of practice. Findings point to a need and desire for more robust education for first responders and health care providers around mental health concerns of military populations, including topics such as trauma, military culture, and screening tools. Efforts to develop curricula addressing these concerns are warranted.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Psychological Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, ALB


education, emergency medical technicians, families of military personnel, fire fighters, first responders, focus groups, health professionals, information needs, military, occupational therapists, physical therapists, police psychology, nurses, speech therapists

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Research Summary

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