The Assessment Core has four main objectives that support proposed and future clinical trials and epidemiological studies: (1) to create uniformity of instrumentation and measurement and to employ state-of- the-art measures with sound psychometric properties;(2) to ensure measurement of outcome and predictor variables that are relevant and sensitive to the active duty military ethos and culture as well as Veterans' experiences;(3) to train and to provide oversight and supervision of Independent Evaluators (IEs), to adjudicate diagnostic decisions for clinical trials when necessary, to conduct inter-rater reliability evaluations of taped PTSD interviews, and to shape IEs over time to obviate drift;and (4) to work with the Data and Epidemiological Cores to create a data dictionary and to manage and leverage the omnibus multi-study dataset. Our team has specialized expertise in the assessment of war-trauma (Litz, 2007;Litz &Schlenger, 2009; Steenkamp et al., 2010;Stein et al., 2012) and has extensive experience measuring risk and resilience in the military over the life-course (Baker et al., 2012;Dickstein et al., 2010). The infrastructure created under STRONG STAR is well-equipped to effectively oversee the measurement and assessment needs for STRONG STAR-CAP. To date, we have selected outcome and predictor variables that are state-of-the-art and that provide content coverage across multiple domains while respecting Service Members'and Veterans time-and- effort constraints. We were especially mindful of the latter and chose briefer options whenever possible. Ronald Acierno at the Charleston VA Medical Center/Medical University South Carolina has organized an informal research Consortium consisting of approximately 10 non-NCPTSD investigators located at VAs throughout the US (see Table 5) who are committed to partnering with the Assessment Core and the STRONG STAR-CAP. All of the investigators have current VA, DoD, or NIH funding to support their PTSD research. A primary interest of this group is to help ensure that a set of Common Data Elements (Kaloupek et al., 2010) are collected across all DoD and VA STRONG STAR-CAP-affiliated studies (e.g., common psychological construct domains, biomarkers, etc.). They have titled their effort the Coalition of VA/DoD PTSD CAP Study Site Partners for Common Data Elements.
The Assessment Core will support all studies in STRONG STAR-CAP. The Assessment Core will: (1) create uniformity of instrumentation;(2) ensure measurement of outcome and predictor variables that are relevant and sensitive to the active-duty military culture and Veterans'experiences;(3) train, certify, and supervise independent PTSD outcome evaluators, adjudicate diagnostic decisions for clinical trials, and conduct inter- rater reliability evaluations of taped PTSD interviews;and (4) work closely with other Cores to create a data dictionary and to manage the multi-study dataset. The Assessment Core will build upon the Assessment Core infrastructure created to support STRONG STAR and is well-equipped to effectively oversee the assessment needs for the STRONG STAR-CAP consortium over time. Leveraging our content expertise and experience, we will select outcome and predictor variables that are state of the art and provide content coverage across multiple domains, while respecting time and effort constraints for Service Members and Veterans.