This descriptive study assessed stigma and barriers to accessing mental health services in a convenience sample (N = 211) of Air Force nursing personnel, including 111 officers, 98 enlisted, and 2 of unknown grade, to answer the following research questions: (1) What are the perceived levels of stigma and barriers to accessing mental health services for Air Force nursing personnel? and (2) Does military grade affect perceived levels of stigma and barriers to accessing mental health services for officer and enlisted Air Force nursing personnel? The hypotheses were that there would be no difference between officer and enlisted Air Force nursing personnel in perceived levels of both stigma and barriers to care associated with accessing mental health services. Participants completed a survey that included the Britt (2000) and Hoge et al. (2004) stigma scale and the Hoge et al. (2004) barriers to care scale. The stigma scales grand mean was 3.1 (α = .89; SD = 0.97), an average response of neither agree nor disagree. More than 50% of respondents agreed that Members of my unit might have less confidence in me and My unit leadership might treat me differently. The barriers to care scale's grand mean was 2.1, an average response of disagree. Scheduling an appointment was a barrier for approximately 20% of respondents. Approximately 40% of respondents agreed that difficulty getting time off from work for treatment was a barrier to care. Significant differences between officer and enlisted responses to stigma and barriers to care items were found; however, the effect sizes were small. Compared with enlisted personnel, officers were more likely to agree that accessing mental health services would be embarrassing, harm their career, or cause leaders to blame them for the problem (p ≤.03 for each comparison). The sample's proportion indicating agreement to the stigma scale items were within ranges previously reported by service members screening positive for a mental health disorder after a deployment. Because perceptions of stigma and barriers to accessing mental health services endure, military leadership must stress the benefits of early access to mental health services and pursue an aggressive anti-stigma campaign.
Level of Degree
College of Nursing
First Committee Member (Chair)
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Stigma, Air Force, Mental Health, Nurse, Barriers to Care, Military
Hernandez, Stephen. "STIGMA AND BARRIERS TO ACCESSING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES PERCEIVED BY AIR FORCE NURSING PERSONNEL." (2012). https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nurs_etds/8