Women and OEF/OIF/OND Reserve/National Guard (RNG) war Veterans are among the fastest growing groups of new VA users. Although PTSD is highly prevalent in this group of Veterans, most choose not to seek care for a variety of reasons. Facilitating access to mental health (MH) services for RNG OEF/OIF/OND female Veterans with PTSD is challenging and requires new approaches to outreach. Such approaches are urgently needed to mediate the severity of post- deployment MH conditions, alleviate concerns over MH diagnoses, and interrupt the cycle of chronicity found in many with PTSD. This gap between need for and use of VA PTSD services suggests that further research is needed to understand specific barriers to VA MH care and VA PTSD evidence-based psychotherapy (EBP). A web-based interface tailored to consumer needs has the potential to promote active engagement by Veterans in their health care. Considering that OEF/OIF combat Veterans enrolled in VA care report a preference to seek readjustment services or information over the internet, such an approach may have important advantages for engaging this group. Furthermore, evidence indicates that when patients are educated about their physical health conditions and treatment alternatives, shared decision- making results in increased treatment participation, better adherence to treatment recommendations, and better health outcomes. Although highly promising, web-based and shared-decision making approaches to facilitating VA MH treatment utilization are in need of further study. In Phase 1 of the project, we will use qualitative methods to assess VA enrolled PTSD positive OEF/OIF/OND RNG female war Veterans'perceptions, preferences and barriers and facilitators to accessing VA MH services and EBP for PTSD. This information will be used to refine our existing web-based interface to better address these issues. Satisfaction with the revised interface will then be assessed. Phase 2 will focus on comparing the efficacy of two approaches to promoting VHA initiation. Participants who screen positive for PTSD on the web interface will be randomly assigned to: 1) Study concierge nurse case manager (NCM) facilitated shared decision making to assist with VA MH evaluation and treatment;or 2) existing outreach (current standard of care). Follow-up assessments will be conducted at 6 and 12 months to determine whether and where participants sought MH care (from both VA and non-VA resources). This study will provide valuable insights about this population's perceptions of VA MH services and of PTSD EBP, as well as their evolving use of VA and other community resources to address PTSD and other post-deployment MH needs. Furthermore, it will provide important information regarding the efficacy of relatively inexpensive and resource-sparing interventions that can be readily implemented within existing and emerging (e.g., Patient Alight Care Teams [PACT]) models of VA care delivery. While the proposed web interface and shared decision- making intervention are currently directed at RNG women Veterans post-deployment, there are clear implications for expansion to other populations and health/MH concerns, as well. Findings have important policy implications for several operational partners heavily invested in the improved access and delivery of evidence-based mental health care for Veterans with PTSD

Public Health Relevance

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National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (HCR1)
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Iowa City VA Medical Center
Iowa City
United States
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