Improve care for veterans with PTSD: report

July 13, 2012
Improve care for veterans with PTSD: report
'Treatment isn't reaching everyone who needs it,' Institute of Medicine says.

(HealthDay) -- Access to care for U.S. military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must improve, says an Institute of Medicine report released Friday that also calls for better tracking of treatments and results.

The congressionally mandated report also said that the and Veterans Affairs should launch research programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their PTSD programs and make the findings widely available.

In addition, service members should undergo PTSD screening at least once a year at defense department treatment centers, as is currently done for veterans seen in the VA system.

Of the active service members and veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and screened positive for PTSD symptoms, about 40 percent have received a referral for an additional evaluation or treatment. Of those referred, about 65 percent have received treatment, according to the report.

"DoD [Department of Defense] and VA offer many programs for PTSD, but treatment isn't reaching everyone who needs it, and the departments aren't tracking which treatments are being used or evaluating how well they work in the long term," report committee chair Sandro Galea, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, said in an Institute of Medicine news release.

"In addition, DoD has no information on the effectiveness of its programs to prevent PTSD," Galea said.

An August 2011 editorial in the said that as many as 20 percent of soldiers returning from such as Iraq and Afghanistan develop PTSD -- a condition marked by emotional numbing, nightmares, flashbacks of terrifying events and .

The VA and defense department are making efforts to improve access to care for patients with PTSD, but many obstacles remain and occur at various levels, the report noted.

Patients may not seek care because of fears that doing so will harm their military career, because they have to travel long distances to see a mental health provider, or because they can't take time off from their military duties or jobs to get treatment.

Health care providers may have difficulty treating patients because of a lack of training or time and location issues. Organizational barriers may be the result of limited treatment capabilities in combat zones, restrictions on where and when medications for PTSD can be used, and challenges in getting service members or veterans to appointments, the report said.

The defense department and VA need to collect more data on barriers to PTSD care in order to better understand them, and any interventions used to remove these barriers should be assessed for effectiveness, the report said. In particular, the report suggested exploring "telemedicine" and other emerging technologies.

In response to the report, Pat Gualtieri, executive director of the United War Veterans Council of New York, said: "On behalf of all veterans, I strongly urge implementation of this recommendation. Suicide has claimed four times as many of Iraq and Afghanistan as combat. This is a national tragedy which must be addressed more aggressively."

The Institute of Medicine was established four decades ago to provide objective recommendations to U.S. policymakers, health professionals, and others.

Explore further: Almost one third of Iraq/Afghanistan women veterans with PTSD report military sexual trauma

More information: The American Psychiatric Association has more about military mental health.


Related Stories

Almost one third of Iraq/Afghanistan women veterans with PTSD report military sexual trauma

September 15, 2011
Thirty-one percent of women veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder reported military sexual trauma (MST), in contrast to one percent of men with PTSD, according to a study ...

Recommended for you

Gene associated with schizophrenia risk regulates neurodevelopment

September 25, 2017
A gene associated with the risk of schizophrenia regulates critical components of early brain development, according to a new study led by researchers from Penn State University. The gene is involved in the translation of ...

For a better 'I,' there needs to be a supportive 'we'

September 25, 2017
If you're one of those lucky individuals with high motivation and who actively pursues personal growth goals, thank your family and friends who support you.

Babies can learn that hard work pays off

September 21, 2017
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. A new study from MIT reveals that babies as young as 15 months can learn to follow this advice. The researchers found that babies who watched an adult struggle at two different ...

Study links brain inflammation to suicidal thinking in depression

September 21, 2017
Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have increased brain levels of a marker of microglial activation, a sign of inflammation, according to a new study in Biological Psychiatry by researchers at the University of ...

Oxytocin turns up the volume of your social environment

September 20, 2017
Before you shop for the "cuddle" hormone oxytocin to relieve stress and enhance your social life, read this: a new study from the University of California, Davis, suggests that sometimes, blocking the action of oxytocin in ...

Researchers develop new tool to assess individual's level of wisdom

September 20, 2017
Researchers at University of San Diego School of Medicine have developed a new tool called the San Diego Wisdom Scale (SD-WISE) to assess an individual's level of wisdom, based upon a conceptualization of wisdom as a trait ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.