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Volume 45 Number 9, 2008
   Pages 1349 — 1360

Abstract - Use of mental health services by veterans disabled by auditory disorders

Caroline J. Kendall, PhD;1-2* Robert Rosenheck, MD2-3

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; 2Department of Psychiatry, Yale University, New Haven, CT; 3VA New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Centers, West Haven VA Hospital, West Haven, CT, and School of Public Health and Epidemiology, Yale University, New Haven, CT

Abstract — This study examined whether veterans disabled by auditory disorders face barriers to receipt of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) mental health services. We compared use of VA mental health services by veterans disabled by auditory disorders with use of such services by veterans disabled by four other chronic illnesses. We hypothesized that disabled veterans with auditory disorders, including tinnitus and/or hearing loss, would be less likely to use VA mental health services than other disabled veterans because of communication difficulties. The study sample was based on national VA administrative data for veterans with a diagnosed mental health disorder who were not receiving VA compensation for that disorder but who were receiving VA compensation for another disorder, either physical or auditory, at the end of fiscal year 2005. After controlling for potentially confounding factors, we unexpectedly found that veterans disabled by auditory disorders were more likely than other disabled veterans to use VA mental health services at least once. Among users, however, those with auditory disorders accessed slightly fewer visits than those disabled by other conditions, although the reasons for the difference remain unclear.

Key words: auditory disorder, disability, health services use, hearing loss, mental health, psychiatric disorder, rehabilitation, tinnitus, VA, veterans.


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