A Portrait of Mental Health Services Utilization and Perceived Barriers to Care in Men and Women Evacuated During the 2016 Fort McMurray Wildfires.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Adm Policy Ment Health, Volume 48, Issue 6, p.1006-1018 (2021)


<p>This study examines the influence of gender on mental health services utilization and on perceived barriers to treatment one year after the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. Data was collected through a phone survey from May to July 2017 (N = 1510). Participants were English-speaking evacuees aged 18 and older. Mental health services utilization and barriers to mental health care were assessed with the Perceived Need for Care questionnaire. Probable diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression and insomnia were assessed with validated self-report questionnaires. Multiple logistic regressions confirmed that gender was a significant predictor of services utilization, after controlling for associated sociodemographic variables and presence of probable diagnoses. Women were respectively 1.50, 1.55 and 1.86 times more likely than men to receive information, medication and psychological help. Self-reliance was the most frequently reported reason for not receiving help, and motivational barriers, such as pessimism and stigma, were reported in a higher proportion than structural barriers, including nonresponse and finance. No significant gender differences were found in the types of perceived barriers to services. Among the Fort McMurray fire evacuees, mental health services utilization was similar to other studies on natural disaster victims, and higher in women than in men. Efforts to increase services utilization in natural disaster victims should focus on motivational barriers and offering treatments fostering people's autonomy, such as online treatments.</p>

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