[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study examines pretraining attitudes toward prolonged exposure (PE) therapy in a sample of 1,275 mental health clinicians enrolled in a national PE training program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Attitudes assessed via survey included values placed on outcomes targeted by PE, outcome expectancies (positive expectancies for patient improvement and negative expectancies related to patient deterioration, clinician time burden, and clinician emotional burden), and self-efficacy for delivering PE. Results indicated that clinicians were receptive to learning PE and had positive expectations about the treatment, but expressed concerns that PE might increase patient distress. Responses varied by clinician characteristics with psychologists, clinicians working in specialty PTSD treatment settings (as opposed to those in mental health clinics and other clinic types), and those with a primarily cognitive-behavioral orientation expressing attitudes that were most supportive of learning and implementing PE across various indicators. Implications for addressing attitudinal barriers to implementation of PE therapy are discussed.
Journal of Traumatic Stress 08/2014; 27(4):423-429. · 2.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This study assessed associations between psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and longitudinal changes in PTSD, depression, and mental health functioning among U.S. veterans diagnosed as having PTSD.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To compare clinical and process outcomes of cognitive processing therapy-cognitive only version (CPT-C) delivered via videoteleconferencing (VTC) to in-person in a rural, ethnically diverse sample of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The Journal of clinical psychiatry. 05/2014; 75(5):470-476.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective
This study investigated predictors of therapeutic outcomes for veterans who received treatment for dysregulated anger.Method
Data are from a randomized controlled trial investigating the effectiveness of video teleconferencing compared to in-person delivery of anger management therapy (AMT) among 125 military veterans. Multilevel modeling was used to assess 2 types of predictors (demographic characteristics and mental health factors) of changes in anger symptoms after treatment.ResultsResults showed that while veterans benefited similarly from treatment across modalities, veterans who received two or more additional mental health services and who had longer commutes to care showed the greatest improvement on a composite measure of self-reported anger symptoms.Conclusion
Results highlight that veterans with a range of psychosocial and mental health characteristics benefited from AMT, while those receiving the most additional concurrent mental health services had better outcomes.
Journal of Clinical Psychology 04/2014; · 2.12 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We investigated potential mechanisms of action for anger symptom reductions, specifically, the roles of anger regulation skills and therapeutic alliance on changes in anger symptoms, following group Anger Management Treatment (AMT) among combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Data were drawn from a published randomized controlled trial of AMT conducted with a racially diverse group of 109 veterans with PTSD and anger symptoms residing in Hawaii. Results of latent growth curve models indicated that gains in calming skills predicted significantly larger reductions in anger symptoms at post-treatment, while the development of cognitive coping and behavioral control skills did not predict greater symptom reductions. Therapeutic alliance had indirect effects on all outcomes mostly via arousal calming skills. Results suggest that generalized symptom reduction may be mediated by development of skills in calming physiological arousal. In addition, arousal reduction skills appeared to enhance one's ability to employ other anger regulation skills.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Benzodiazepines, other anxiolytics, or sedative hypnotics are prescribed for 30%-50% of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) patients. Prior data and theory suggest that these medications may inhibit response to exposure therapy, one of the most effective PTSD treatments. The present post hoc study reanalyzed results from a psychotherapy trial to assess whether benzodiazepine use was associated with reduced response to exposure therapy.
Between August 2002 and October 2005, 283 female veterans and soldiers meeting DSM-IV criteria for PTSD were randomly assigned to 10 weekly 90-minute sessions of either prolonged exposure (n = 140) or present-centered psychotherapy (n = 143). Benzodiazepine use (n = 57) or non-use (n = 226) at intake was not randomly assigned. Multilevel modeling was used to assess the effects of benzodiazepine status, psychotherapy condition, and their interaction on changes on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale and the PTSD Checklist during the treatment and 6-month follow-up periods.
Consistent with prior reports from these data, prolonged exposure psychotherapy produced greater reductions per week in PTSD symptoms than did present-centered psychotherapy (b = -0.48, P = .02). Patients prescribed benzodiazepines did not have weaker response to prolonged exposure, but demonstrated poorer posttreatment maintenance of gains from present-centered psychotherapy (b = -0.78, P < .001).
Prolonged exposure is a sufficiently robust treatment that patients who are taking benzodiazepines can benefit from it. It is unclear whether benzodiazepine use or other patient factors accounted for benzodiazepine recipients' poorer maintenance of gains in present-centered psychotherapy.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00032617.
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 12/2013; 74(12):1241-8. · 5.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: No prior research has examined men's opinions or preferences regarding receiving health education materials related to sexual violence. The objective of the current study was to investigate whether male veteran patients who have experienced military sexual trauma (MST) prefer gender-targeted versus gender-neutral printed health information and whether receipt of this information increased utilization of outpatient mental health services in the following 6-month period. In-person 45-minute interviews were conducted with 20 male veterans receiving health care services at a large Veterans Health Administration facility to evaluate opinions on a gender-targeted and a gender-neutral brochure about MST. An additional 153 veterans received psychoeducational materials through the mail and participated in the completion of a survey as part of a psychoeducational intervention. Our results demonstrate that male veterans prefer gender-targeted information about sexual trauma compared to gender-neutral information. Whereas veterans in the study had clear preferences for gender-targeted materials, receipt of information about MST (whether gender-targeted or gender-neutral) did not increase utilization of mental health care in the 6 months following receipt of these materials. These results demonstrated that materials about sexual trauma are acceptable to men and should be gender-targeted. Further research is needed to examine strategies to increase access to mental health care among male Veterans who have experienced MST.
American journal of men's health 11/2013; · 1.15 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patient-centered care involves engaging patients as partners in establishing treatment priorities. No prior studies have examined what specific problems veterans hope to address when they enter posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment. Veterans starting outpatient (n = 216) and residential (n = 812) PTSD treatment in 2 multisite care management trials specified (open-ended) the 2 or 3 problems that they most wanted to improve through treatment. Over 80% mentioned PTSD-symptom-related concerns including PTSD or trauma (19.2% to 19.9% of patients), anger (31.0% to 36.7%), sleep problems (14.3% to 27.3%), nightmares (12.3% to 19.4%), and estrangement/isolation (7.9% to 20.8%). Other common problems involved depression (23.1% to 36.5%), anxiety not specific to PTSD (23.9% to 27.8%), relationships (20.4% to 24.5%), and improving coping or functioning (19.2% to 20.4%). Veterans' treatment goals varied significantly by outpatient versus residential setting, gender, and period of military service. Our findings confirm the importance of educating patients about how available efficacious treatments relate to clients' personal goals. Our results also suggest that clinicians should be prepared to offer interventions or provide referrals for common problems such as anger, nightmares, sleep, depression, or relationship difficulties if these problems do not remit with trauma-focused psychotherapy or if patients are unwilling to undergo trauma-focused treatment.
Journal of Traumatic Stress 10/2013; · 2.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Abstract Background: Although effective psychotherapies for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) exist, high percentages of Veterans in need of services are unable to access them. One particular challenge to providing cost-effective psychological treatments to Veterans with PTSD involves the difficulty and high cost of delivering in-person, specialized psychotherapy to Veterans residing in geographically remote locations. The delivery of these services via clinical videoteleconferencing (CVT) has been presented as a potential solution to this access to care problem. Materials and Methods: This study is a retrospective cost analysis of a randomized controlled trial investigating telemedicine service delivery of an anger management therapy for Veterans with PTSD. The parent trial found that the CVT condition provided clinical results that were comparable to the in-person condition. Several cost outcomes were calculated in order to investigate the clinical and cost outcomes associated with the CVT delivery modality relative to in-person delivery. Results: The CVT condition was significantly associated with lower total costs compared with the in-person delivery condition. The delivery of mental health services via CVT enables Veterans who would not normally receive these services access to empirically based treatments. Additional studies addressing long-term healthcare system costs, indirect cost factors at the patient and societal levels, and the use of CVT in other geographic regions of the United States are needed. Conclusions: The results of this study provide evidence that CVT is a cost-reducing mode of service delivery to Veterans with PTSD relative to in-person delivery.
Telemedicine and e-Health 08/2013; · 1.40 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IMPORTANCE Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a pervasive and often debilitating condition that affects many individuals in the general population and military service members. Effective treatments for PTSD are greatly needed for both veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and veterans of other eras. Prolonged exposure (PE) therapy has been shown to be highly efficacious in clinical trials involving women with noncombat trauma, but there are limited data on its effectiveness in real-world clinical practice settings and with veterans. OBJECTIVE To evaluate the effectiveness of PE as implemented with veterans with PTSD in a large health care system. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS This evaluation included 1931 veterans treated by 804 clinicians participating in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) PE Training Program. After completing a 4-day experiential PE training workshop, clinicians implemented PE (while receiving consultation) with a minimum of 2 veteran patients who had a primary diagnosis of PTSD. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES Changes in PTSD and depression symptoms were assessed with the PTSD Checklist and the Beck Depression Inventory II, measured at baseline and at the final treatment session. Multiple and single imputation were used to estimate the posttest scores of patients who left treatment before completing 8 sessions. Demographic predictors of treatment dropout were also examined. RESULTS Intent-to-treat analyses indicate that PE is effective in reducing symptoms of both PTSD (pre-post d = 0.87) and depression (pre-post d = 0.66), with effect sizes comparable to those reported in previous efficacy trials. The proportion of patients screening positive for PTSD on the PTSD Checklist decreased from 87.6% to 46.2%. CONCLUSIONS Clinically significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were achieved among male and female veterans of all war eras and veterans with combat-related and non-combat-related PTSD. Results also indicate that PE is effective in reducing depression symptoms, even though depression is not a direct target of the treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Research suggests that there may be unique barriers to accessing care among men who have experienced sexual trauma. The primary goal of the current research was to elucidate potential barriers to accessing military sexual trauma (MST)-related care for male veterans. A secondary goal was to explore whether veterans have preferences regarding the gender of clinicians providing MST-related care. Qualitative analyses were used to examine data collected from semistructured interviews conducted with 20 male veterans enrolled in Veterans Health Administration care who reported MST but who had not received any MST-related mental health care. Veterans identified a number of potential barriers, with the majority of reported barriers relating to issues of stigma and gender. Regarding provider gender preferences, veterans were mixed, with 50% preferring a female provider, 25% a male provider, and 25% reporting no gender preference. These preliminary data suggest that stigma, gender, and knowledge-related barriers may exist for men regarding seeking MST-related care. Interventions to address potential barriers, such as outreach interventions and providing gender-specific psychoeducation, may increase access to care for male veterans who report MST. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current study examined the longitudinal effects of clinical and treatment utilization factors on aggressive behavior among 376 help-seeking U.S. veterans recently diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who were followed for 5-12 months. Participants were sampled from 4 strata: male Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, female Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, male prior-era veterans, and female prior-era veterans. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that changes in PTSD severity were significantly associated with changes in aggressive behavior among veterans who reported any aggression at baseline (β = .15). Changes in days of alcohol intoxication also were positively associated with changes in aggressive behavior (β = .16). Participants with both a benzodiazepine prescription and any baseline aggression were significantly more likely to increase in aggressive behavior over time (β = .14). Contrary to our hypotheses, reductions in aggressive behavior were not related to the number of outpatient mental health visits or to first-line recommended psychotropic medications. Results inform assessment and clinical research on changes in aggressive behavior among veterans with PTSD.
Journal of Traumatic Stress 12/2012; 25(6):649-56. · 2.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: This study assessed whether adding a telephone care management protocol to usual aftercare improved the outcomes of veterans in the year after they were discharged from residential treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). METHODS: In a multisite randomized controlled trial, 837 veterans entering residential PTSD treatment were assigned to receive either standard outpatient aftercare (N=425) or standard aftercare plus biweekly telephone monitoring and support (N=412) for three months after discharge. Symptoms of PTSD and depression, violence, substance use, and quality of life were assessed by self-report questionnaires at intake, discharge, and four and 12 months postdischarge. Treatment utilization was determined from the Department of Veterans Affairs administrative data. RESULTS: Telephone case monitors reached 355 participants (86%) by phone at least once and provided an average of 4.5 of the six calls planned. Participants in the telephone care and treatment-as-usual groups showed similar outcomes on all clinical measures. Time to rehospitalization did not differ by condition. In contrast with prior studies reporting poor treatment attendance among veterans, participants in both telephone monitoring and treatment as usual completed a mental health visit an average of once every ten days in the year after discharge. Many participants had continuing problems despite high utilization of outpatient care. CONCLUSIONS: Telephone care management had little incremental value for patients who were already high utilizers of mental health services. Telephone care management could potentially be beneficial in settings where patients experience greater barriers to engaging with outpatient mental health care after discharge from inpatient treatment.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides specialized intensive posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) programs to treat trauma-related symptoms in addition to providing service-connected disability to compensate veterans for injury sustained while serving in the military. Given the percentage of veterans who are receiving treatment for PTSD, in addition to seeking compensation for PTSD, a debate has emerged about the impact of compensation on symptom recovery. This study examined the associations among status of compensation, treatment expectations, military cohort, length of stay, and outcomes for 776 veterans who were enrolled in 5 VA residential PTSD programs between the years of 2005 and 2010. Mixed model longitudinal analyses, with age, gender, and baseline symptoms nested within treatment site in the model, found that treatment expectations were modestly predictive of treatment outcomes. Veterans seeking increased compensation reported marginally lower treatment expectations (d = .008), and did not experience poorer outcomes compared to veterans not seeking increased compensation with the effect of baseline symptoms partialled out. Veterans from the era of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts reported lower treatment expectations (d = .020) and slightly higher symptoms at intake (d = .021), but had outcomes at discharge equivalent to veterans from other eras with baseline symptoms partialled out. These findings help further inform the debate concerning disability benefits and symptom changes across time.
Journal of Traumatic Stress 10/2012; 25(5):494-502. · 2.72 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This evaluation study elicited feedback from participants in a novel program intended to help posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) clinical managers address organizational challenges in providing services and improving care.
Program participants were invited to respond to an online survey developed for this study; 46% (N=121) responded.
Two-thirds of survey respondents had engaged in mentoring program activities ten or more times in the past six months. Roughly half the respondents reported that the program helped them be more connected to other clinics, learn about innovations in care, and feel more supported. Those who participated more often (β=.25, p<.01) and rated their mentors highly (β=.59, p<.01) reported greater benefits from the program.
Mentees who were actively engaged with the mentoring program reported significant benefits. Efforts are under way to enhance the program by strengthening mentor selection and training.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Clinical practice guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) do not support the use of benzodiazepines and cite insufficient evidence to recommend mood stabilizers. Although guidelines previously recommended second-generation antipsychotics as adjunct medication, recent research findings have also brought this recommendation into question. This study aimed to determine which characteristics of veterans with diagnosed PTSD were associated with receiving prescriptions for benzodiazepines and mood stabilizers and second-generation antipsychotics.
The survey responses of 482 veterans with PTSD were combined with prescription information from Veterans Affairs national pharmacy databases. The researchers assessed the use of eight classes of psychotropics prescribed for patients with PTSD in the year after a new PTSD diagnosis. Multivariate logistic regressions identified demographic characteristics, symptom severity, co-occurring psychiatric diagnoses, health service use, and attitudinal characteristics associated with prescribing of benzodiazepines, second-generation antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers.
In the absence of a clearly indicated co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis, long-term benzodiazepines were prescribed to 14%, second-generation antipsychotics to 15%, and mood stabilizers to 18% of veterans with PTSD. Benzodiazepine prescribing was associated with symptoms of insomnia. Having a mental health inpatient stay (odds ratio [OR]=8.01, p<.001) and at least one psychotherapy visit (OR=5.37, p<.001) were predictors of being prescribed a second-generation antipsychotic. Reporting more symptom severity (OR=1.84, p<.001) and fewer alcohol use problems (OR=.36, p<.03) predicted being prescribed a mood stabilizer.
Prescribing patterns appeared generally consistent with treatment guidelines. Notable exceptions and areas worthy of future attention are discussed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective: Guidelines addressing the treatment of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) strongly recommend a therapeutic trial of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). This study examined veteran characteristics associated with receiving such first-line pharmacotherapy, as well as how being a veteran of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq impact receipt of pharmacotherapy for PTSD.Method: This was a national study of 482 Veterans Affairs (VA) outpatients between the ages of 18 and 69 years who had been newly diagnosed with PTSD (DSM-IV criteria: 309.81) during a VA outpatient visit between May 31, 2006, and December 7, 2007. Participants completed a mailed survey between August 11, 2006, and April 6, 2008. Veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts and female veterans were intentionally oversampled. Logistic regression models were developed to predict 2 dependent variables: odds of initiating an SSRI/SNRI and, among veterans who initiated an SSRI/SNRI, odds of receiving an adequate therapeutic trial. Each dependent variable was regressed on a variety of sociodemographic and survey characteristics.Results: Of the 377 veterans prescribed a psychotropic medication, 73% (n = 276) received an SSRI/SNRI, of whom 61% (n = 168) received a therapeutic trial. Afghanistan and Iraq veterans were less likely to receive a therapeutic trial (odds ratio [OR] = 0.45; 95% CI, 0.27-0.75; P < .01), with presence of a comorbid depression diagnosis in the year after the index episode moderating this relationship, which further decreased the odds of completing a therapeutic trial (OR = 0.29; 95% CI, 0.09-0.95; P < .05).Conclusions: Reduced levels of receipt of first-line pharmacotherapy among recent veteran returnees parallel previous findings of less mental health treatment utilization in this population and warrant investigation.
The primary care companion to CNS disorders. 01/2012; 14(2).
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Anger is a common symptom among military populations with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); yet, anger treatment has received relatively little attention in the literature. This discrepancy is surprising given that excessive anger is a key predictor of treatment outcome in PTSD. This study seeks to (a) build a case for the importance of a more explicit approach to understanding and treating anger in our military and veteran populations, (b) summarize the current literature base on treatment factors and treatment outcomes for treating anger and related symptoms among veterans, and (c) offer clinical and research implications and recommendations based on current findings and on the expertise of the authors in completing a large‐scale study of anger treatment with veterans.
Clinical Psychology Science and Practice 01/2012; 19(3). · 2.92 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Survey and medical record data from 482 Veterans Affairs (VA) patients who recently received diagnoses of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were examined to determine need and predisposing factors associated with utilization of psychotherapy and counseling. More than half (58%) of participants initiated VA psychotherapy for PTSD within a year of diagnosis. Of those, one third completed eight or more sessions. Roughly two thirds of participants initiated counseling at a Vet Center. Initiating PTSD psychotherapy was associated with greater impairment but not with stigma, concerns about fitting in, or satisfaction with care. The use of Vet Center counseling was associated with desire for help, concerns about fitting in, and satisfaction with care. Unexpectedly, veterans with greater stigma concerns completed more psychotherapy visits and Vet Center counseling. Negative attitudes about mental health treatment did not seem to be substantial barriers to engaging in psychotherapy among these VA patients. Future research should consider enabling treatment system factors in addition to predisposing patient characteristics.
The Journal of nervous and mental disease 11/2011; 199(11):879-85. · 1.77 Impact Factor