Feasibility of a Skills-Based Group Reintegration Workshop for OEF/OIF Veterans: STEP-Home

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate the feasibility of a newly developed reintegration workshop for Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF/OIF) Veterans that is based on an evidence-based rehabilitation program shown to be effective in treating mild traumatic brain injury–related symptoms in civilians. Underutilization and resistance to mental health treatment remain a significant problem for OEF/OIF Veterans. Innovative, integrative, transdiagnostic, and acceptable interventions are needed, particularly for this heterogeneous group.

Participants:

Eighty-four OEF/OIF/Operation New Dawn Veterans (74 male and 10 female)—mean age = 35; standard deviation = 7.4.

Setting:

VA Healthcare System.

Intervention:

A 12-week, 2-hour/wk, group skills-based workshop with individual skill building to assist all OEF/OIF Veterans (with and without psychiatric and/or traumatic brain injury) in reintegration after military service.

Main Measures:

Primary outcomes were feasibility measures including treatment fidelity, acceptability, tolerability/adherence, and treatment-related skill acquisition. Secondary outcomes were interest and engagement in future treatment and reintegration status.

Results:

Veterans' enrollment, adherence, and attrition data indicated that Short-Term Executive Plus adapted for Veteran civilian reintegration (STEP-Home) was acceptable and tolerable. Pre-/postintervention differences in attention, problem-solving, and emotional regulation skills demonstrated treatment-related skills acquisition. Secondary outcome data demonstrated Veterans who were hesitant to participate in mental health treatments before enrollment were more open to treatment engagement after STEP-Home, and reintegration status improved.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrated that the STEP-Home workshop is feasible in OEF/OIF Veterans and changes in treatment-related skill acquisition and reintegration status were observed. STEP-Home has potential to facilitate readjustment and serves as a gateway to additional, critically needed Veterans Administration services.

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