PTSD: National Center for PTSD
Evaluation Division Research
Evaluation Division Research
The Evaluation Division, headquartered in West Haven, CT, supports the National Center's mission through a programmatic link with the VA's Northeast Program Evaluation Center (NEPEC), which has broad responsibilities within VA Office of Mental Health Operations (OMHO) to evaluate their programs, including those for specialized treatment of PTSD.
Monitoring and Assessing PTSD Treatment
NEPEC has continued to monitor and assess PTSD treatment at the VA. This monitoring of PTSD treatment includes both residential and outpatient specialty treatment programs and PTSD treatment by trained providers not working at one of the PTSD specialty programs. The Evaluation Division via NEPEC also monitors the effort to improve psychotropic medication prescribing practices at the VHA. Two of the measures used in this initiative are the use of antipsychotics to treat PTSD and the use of benzodiazepines without an appropriate diagnosis or medical indication.
The Division continues research on PTSD health service research, pain management and the role of pain in the treatment of PTSD, and on sex differences in the health of returning Veterans. The Division is about to begin the third year of data collection on a NIMH R01 investigating the implementation of two evidence-based treatments, Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) in 38 Department of Veterans Affairs' residential treatment programs for PTSD.
Findings have been published on provider perspectives on perceived effective residential treatment ingredients, provider perceptions of dissuading factors to the use of PE and CPT, and changes in implementation of PE and CPT over time. Recruitment continued for the Survey of Experiences of Returning Veterans (SERV) Study, which is funded by VA Clinical Science Research and Development (CSR&D) and examines sex differences in OEF/OIF/OND Veterans. Currently about 550 participants have been recruited into the study, and follow-up rates remain at or above 90%. The Division also submitted a Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) grant to extend the SERV study in an attempt to better understand why symptomatic Veterans elect not to seek services to address their difficulties.
Over the next year the Division will examine further the role of pain in specialized PTSD treatment and in the treatment of comorbid disorders; continue the SERV study, publishing results from the qualitative interviews of participants and continuing the establishment of a longitudinal cohort of returning Veterans; and will embark on a study of impulse control issues among people in treatment for PTSD. In addition, the annual survey of all specialized PTSD programs that is conducted by NEPEC has been changed and expanded to include questions about the dissemination of evidence-based therapies within specialized programs. The national psychopharmacology initiative has just begun and will be continuing throughout the year. The Division is also working with OMHO, Mental Health Services (MHS), and the Executive Division to establish a technical assistance group that will respond to requests from specialized programs and staff in the field on policy, operations, handbook implementation, and the provision of evidence-based practices (EBPs).