Treatment Selection Among Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Specialty Care Providers in the Veterans Health Administration: A Thematic Analysis


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Abstract

Objective: Although efforts to implement evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) require understanding how providers view and initiate these interventions, little is known regarding provider treatment selection in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) care. The current study examines how specialty PTSD clinic providers within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) describe reasons for selecting specific psychotherapies in PTSD treatment planning. Method: VHA psychotherapists in specialty PTSD care clinics completed a national online survey of treatment attitudes and practices, including an open-ended item inquiring about treatment selection. Thematic analysis was used to develop a framework describing factors in VHA providers’ PTSD treatment selection. Results: Of 250 survey participants, 219 provided description of their treatment selection process. Providers identified four domains of factors impacting treatment planning: (1) provider factors (e.g., training), (2) perceived characteristics of the intervention (e.g., structural features), (3) patient factors (e.g., characteristics of the patient and symptom presentation), and (4) organizational context (e.g., VHA policy). Assessment of appropriate treatments for an individual patient was described as resulting from interaction across these domains, particularly perceived fit between patient needs and specific treatments. Conclusions: Provider decision making has been understudied in implementation science. Although prior research has emphasized the role of organizational context in EBP reach, our findings suggest that other factors are salient when decisions are made at the level of the individual patient. Results suggest that increased attention to treatment selection and focused training in use of decision aids and shared decision making may have utility in increasing uptake, reach, and sustainment of EBPs among VHA PTSD specialty providers.

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