Increasing treatment-seeking intentions of US veterans in the Covid-19 era: A randomized controlled trial

Doron Amsalem, Amit Lazarov, John C. Markowitz, Daniel Gorman, Lisa B. Dixon, Yuval Neria

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Veterans have higher rates of anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may be vulnerable to mental health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than half of veterans who meet mental illness criteria do not seek help. This study screened for clinical symptoms and evaluated the efficacy of a brief, online social-contact-based video intervention in increasing treatment-seeking intentions among veterans. We hypothesized that the video-based intervention would increase treatment-seeking intentions more than written vignette and control conditions. Methods: One hundred seventy-two veterans were randomized to either a (a) brief video-based intervention; (b) written vignette intervention, or (c) nonintervention control group. In the 3-min video, a veteran previously diagnosed with PTSD described his symptom reactivation by Covid-19, his barriers to care, and how therapy helped him to cope. Assessments were conducted at baseline, postintervention, and at 14- and 30-day follow-ups. Results: A total of 91 (53%) veterans reported high levels of clinical symptoms, especially those self-reporting Covid-19 exposure. The brief video-based intervention yielded greater increase in treatment-seeking intentions among veterans. Within the video group, women showed an increase in treatment-seeking intentions from baseline to postintervention only, whereas men showed a more sustained effect, from baseline to Day 14. Conclusions: Surveyed veterans reported high symptoms levels. A brief video intervention increased treatment-seeking intention, likely through identification and emotional engagement with the video protagonist. This easily disseminable video-based intervention has the potential to increase likelihood of seeking care. Future research should examine longer term sustainability and changes in help-seeking behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)639-647
Number of pages9
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Covid-19
  • PTSD
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • help-seeking
  • intervention
  • veterans

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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