Effectiveness of PTSD Telehealth Treatment in a VA Clinical Sample

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Abstract

Over the past decade, the Veterans Health Administration has supported multiple national rollouts of evidence-based treatments for mental health disorders. Recent studies have shown, however, that the majority of veterans with mental health diagnoses are not utilizing psychotherapy services. In this article, we attempt to address one of the more commonly known barriers to treatment, distance to care. We do this by comparing the effectiveness of outpatient and telehealth cognitive processing therapy (CPT) and prolonged exposure (PE) Therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a Veteran clinical sample. Multilevel modeling analyses revealed statistically significant differences between the outpatient and telehealth treatments once baseline demographic and symptom severity differences were taken into account. Given that a number of randomized control studies have not found similar outcome differences, future research would benefit from examining whether the outcomes differences in the present study are because of treatment delivery method or sample differences. Veterans completing treatment via outpatient and telehealth delivery methods achieved clinically significant change in PTSD from pre- to posttreatment. These results suggest that delivering evidence-based treatment for PTSD via telehealth may be a viable treatment option for veterans who cannot easily access care because of geographic distance.

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