Impact of Telephone-Based Problem-Solving Treatment on the Use of Medical and Psychological Services in the Military

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To explore the impact of problem-solving treatment (PST) for mild traumatic brain injury in active duty service members on the use of medical and psychological services.


Service members who had a mild traumatic brain injury during their last deployment and enrolled in the CONcussion Treatment After Combat Trauma (CONTACT) study.


Secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial. Participants were assigned to telephone-based PST, or e-mailed or mailed education only over the course of 6 months.

Main Measure:

Self-reported health service utilization from months 4 through 6 and 10 through 12 after initiation of treatment, using the Cornell Service Index.


In months 4 to 6, participants receiving PST had 6.17 times the odds of an emergency department visit or hospitalization than those receiving education only (95% confidence interval = 1.92–19.8; P value = .0023). These estimates, however, were not significant using a conservative Bonferroni correction (P value threshold < .0014). There were no other significant differences for other medical or psychological services received in months 4 to 6 or 10 to 12.


Telephone-based PST was designed to complement clinical care, and this study showed that it may increase emergency department utilization. Future evaluations of PST with more accurate and complete measures of health service utilization are needed.

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