The Stigma of Psychological Problems in a Work Environment: Evidence From the Screening of Service Members Returning From Bosnia1


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    I would like to thank David Shlaefer for his assistance in data collection: and Robin Kowalski. Mark Leary, Leora Rosen, and Kathy Wright for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. The data for the present research were collected when the author was at the U. S. Army Medical Research Unit-Europe and was deployed to Hungary in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. The views of the author do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense (Paragraph 4-3, AR 360-5).

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Thomas W. Britt. Department of Psychology, 418 Brackett Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-1355. e-mail:


The present research examined the stigma associated with psychological problems among service members returning from the United States peacekeeping mission to Bosnia. The results show that admitting a psychological problem in the military is perceived as muchmore stigmatizing than admitting a medical problem. Service members had more concerns about stigmatization and felt more uncomfortable discussing psychological problems than medical problems, and these feelings were magnified when service members were being screened with their units rather than alone. Service members also reported a lesser likelihood of following through with a psychological referral than with a medical referral. However, participants who discussed psychological issues with a therapist felt the screening was more beneficial than those who did not discuss their responses. The results address the neglected topic of the stigma associated with psychological problems in the workplace.