Improving Treatment Engagement for Returning Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation

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Abstract

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased risk of suicidal ideation among veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. This report examined the effectiveness of a brief phone-based cognitive-behavioral intervention on treatment seeking among suicidal and nonsuicidal Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans who screened positive for PTSD. Participants were randomized to the intervention or control conditions. We found that suicidal participants, regardless of condition, were twice as likely to attend treatment as nonsuicidal participants. Participants assigned to the control condition who did not indicate suicidality at baseline were less likely to attend treatment at both the 1- and 6-month follow-up interviews. Qualitative findings of the suicidal participants indicated PTSD and depressive symptoms, low social support, and infrequent positive coping mechanisms. Our finding indicates the effectiveness of an intervention to motivate veterans with PTSD to initiate and remain in treatment. The intervention might be particularly useful prior to experiencing a psychological crisis.

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