Telemedicine Collaborative Care Helps Vets with PTSD

Through a telemedicine-based collaborative care model, veterans with PTSD who live in rural areas improved upon their clinical outcomes. Of the 500,000 military veterans enrolled in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) with PTSD, many of them live in rural areas, making it difficult for them to engage in treatments.

For the study, John C. Fortney, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and co-authors tested a telemedicine based collaborative care model on 265 veterans from November 2009 through September 2011. The researchers developed the Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD (TOP) intervention to improve clinical outcomes for veterans living with PTSD treated at outpatient clinics without on-site psychiatrists or psychologists. Of the 265 patients, 133 patients received the TOP intervention while 132 received usual care (UC).

The results showed that during the 12-month follow-up, patients in the TOP intervention group had larger decreases in scores on a posttraumatic diagnostic scale, which measures PTSD severity, compared with UC patients. Furthermore, patients who attended eight or more sessions of cognitive processing therapy showed improvement.

The researchers conclude, “Despite its limitations, this trial introduces a promising model for managing PTSD in a treatment-resistant population. Findings suggest that telemedicine-based collaborative care can successfully engage this population in evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD, thereby improving clinical outcomes.”


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