Telemedicine-based Psychotherapy Benefits Veterans With PTSD

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Military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who live in rural areas saw their symptoms improve after receiving psychotherapy remotely through a telemedicine-based collaborative care model.

John C. Fortney, PhD, of the University of Washington, Seattle, and colleagues found that veterans who received psychotherapy through telemedicine — by a combination of telephone calls and interactive video sessions — had significantly lower PTSD severity compared with those who received usual care. The results were reported in JAMA Psychiatry.

Veterans received the psychotherapy element of Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD (TOP) intervention at Veterans Health Affairs community-based outpatient clinics that didn't have any psychiatrists or psychologists on staff. They also talked with care managers and pharmacists via home telephones.

During the 12-month follow-up, 54.9% of the TOP group received cognitive processing therapy compared with 12.1% of the usual care group. Compared with the usual care group, patients in the TOP group had larger decreases in scores on a post-traumatic diagnostic scale at both 6 and 12 months. The results also showed no significant differences in the number of PTSD medications prescribed or the adherence to medication regimens.

"Findings suggest that telemedicine-based collaborative care can successfully engage this population in evidence-based psychotherapy for PTSD, thereby improving clinical outcomes," the researchers concluded.

Telemedicine-based Psychotherapy Benefits Veterans With PTSD
Telemedicine-based Psychotherapy Benefits Veterans With PTSD

Military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who live in rural areas successfully engaged in evidence-based psychotherapy through a telemedicine-based collaborative care model thereby improving their clinical outcomes, according to a report published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

John C. Fortney, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, Seattle, and co-authors tested a telemedicine based collaborative care model designed to improve engagement in evidence-based treatment of PTSD. They developed the Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD intervention to improve PTSD outcomes for veterans treated at Veterans Health Administration community-based outpatient clinics  without on-site psychiatrists or psychologists.

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