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Improving engagement and retention to treatment within VHA PTSD specialty care: Evolution of an outpatient program design.

Hessinger JD, Etingen B, Larsen SE, Hunley HA, Goldstein DA, Day AM, Mayberry M, Weber DJ, Dolgin R, Beyer JA, Maieritsch KP. Improving engagement and retention to treatment within VHA PTSD specialty care: Evolution of an outpatient program design. Psychological Services. 2022 Sep 5.

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The Veteran's Health Administration (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) clinical practice guidelines (2017) recommend individual, trauma-focused therapy as the gold standard of treatment for PTSD (i.e., evidence-based practices [EBP]). Moreover, these guidelines encourage the use of individual shared decision-making (SDM) to increase engagement and completion of EBPs for PTSD in line with current literature. This study retrospectively evaluated three models of program design of a VA PTSD specialty clinic over the past 8 years. In line with previous literature, the study hypothesized that leveraging individualized SDM in the clinic design would lead to increased completion of EBPs for PTSD. Analyses indicated an impact as the models shifted from a group-based model to an individualized model. Specifically, as compared to veterans who completed a group-based design, a greater proportion of those enrolled in the clinic were more likely to complete an EBP. These results may suggest that individualized, patient-centered treatment planning may be related to patient engagement in EBPs for PTSD in contrast with group-based models. Other programmatic changes, such as changes in treatment options presented to patients, a movement to focus on EBPs for PTSD, and expanded clinic hours and telehealth options, possibly impacted veteran engagement and completion in EBPs. The study highlights the potential impacts of a changing patient population within the clinic over a relatively short period. The observations are discussed, and limitations are highlighted. The study shares the hope for additional randomized prospective studies of program designs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

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