Anticipated Impact on Veterans' Healthcare: This project addresses the mental health and functioning needs of Veterans and their families by increasing the access to an established treatment using telemental health technology. Project Background: Veterans and their families experience the deleterious effects of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated negative sequelae. PTSD is related to a variety of comorbid mental health symptomatology and psychosocial impairment, including high rates of intimate relationship problems which impact Veterans' recovery and functioning. Despite available couple-based interventions, barriers to care such as stigma regarding mental health treatment, travel time to receive care, and transportation costs, make it difficult for Veterans and their families to access specialty PTSD treatments necessary for rehabilitation. Home- based clinical video teleconferencing (CVT) delivers specialized mental health treatments to clients in the ease of their own home, which allows clinicians to directly observe the client's home environment and family milieu. Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy (CBCT), a couple-based treatment designed to target PTSD symptoms and improve individual and relationship functioning, has shown evidence of improvements in clinical symptom outcomes in research conducted with Veterans and their partners. Project Objectives: This is a 4-year randomized controlled trial. The primary objective of this study is to compare the clinical efficacy (PTSD symptoms, relationship distress, and functional impairment) of CBCT delivered via an office-based (CBCT-OB) or a home-based CVT (CBCT-HB) delivery modality to the PTSD Family Education control condition (PFE). In addition, this study will estimate and compare the difference in clinical efficacy between CBCT delivered via an office-based (CBCT-OB) or a home-based CVT (CBCT-HB) delivery modality if indicated by results of the primary objective. This study will also compare process outcomes (therapeutic alliance, enrollment and dropout rates, and treatment satisfaction) for CBCT-OB, CBCT- HB, and PFE. Project Methods: Participants will be 180 intent-to-treat couples in which one partner is a PTSD-positive Veteran. Couples will be randomly assigned to receive treatment through one of the three treatment delivery modalities: CBCT-OB, CBCT-HB or PFE. Assessments will be conducted at baseline, mid- and post-treatment, and 3- and 6-months post-treatment. The primary outcome variables of clinical efficacy will be measures of PTSD symptom severity, relationship distress and functional impairment. Secondary process outcomes will include measures of treatment retention, attendance, therapeutic alliance, and treatment satisfaction. The results will provide evidence that can be used to further increase the clinical efficacy, ease of access to, and utilization of specialty PTSD treatment to Veterans and their families.

Public Health Relevance

Untreated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a costly condition associated with impairment in functioning across a host of psychosocial domains including occupational and academic functioning, marital and family functioning, parenting and socialization. Impairment is not limited to Veterans with PTSD because the entire family is affected, particularly the Veteran's intimate partner. PTSD symptoms can produce negative effects on both members of the dyad. Despite the need for treatment, many Veterans and their families do not access PTSD-related services due to a number of barriers to accessing care (e.g., living in rural or remote areas, concerns about stigma, limited clinic hours). The objective of this study is to assess whether providing Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy, in which PTSD symptoms and intimate relationship functioning are addressed, to Veterans and their romantic partners in their homes via clinical video teleconferencing leads to better outcomes compared to office based treatment.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
Non-HHS Research Projects (I01)
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Psychological Health & Social Reintegration (RRD4)
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VA San Diego Healthcare System
Independent Hospitals
San Diego
United States
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