Effects of a Brief Education and Treatment-Planning Group on Evidence-Based PTSD Treatment Utilization and Completion Among Veterans

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Objective: Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presenting for care with Veterans Affairs Health Care System (VA) tend not to engage in evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) despite widespread availability of these treatments. Though there is little evidence that “readiness for treatment” affects treatment choice, many VA providers believe that interventions to increase readiness would be helpful. This naturalistic study examined the effects of a 4-session education/treatment-planning group on treatment choice among veterans in a VA outpatient PTSD treatment program. Method: Treatment choices and completion rates of 114 veterans who received at least 1 session of the group (EG) were compared with those of 68 veterans who did not receive the group and received PTSD program treatment as usual (TAU). TAU and EG cases were matched on gender and service era. Results: Of 114 EG cases, 52 (45.6%) chose to receive EBPs, compared with 10 of 68 TAU cases (14.7%). These rates were significantly different, χ2(1) = 18.1, p < .0001. Among cases choosing EBPs, 52.2% of EG cases completed the EBPs as planned, compared with 60% of TAU cases. These percentages were not significantly different. Among EG cases choosing EBPs, lower likelihood of treatment completion was related to psychiatric medication prescription, presence of PTSD service connection, and higher overall service-connection level. Conclusion: The education/treatment-planning group was associated with higher likelihood of selecting but not completing EBPs for PTSD. The decision to engage in trauma-focused treatment may be a different process from the decision to complete such treatment.

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