2012 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract
1070 — Veteran Feedback on a Proposed Web-Based Intervention for PTSD and Substance Misuse
Bishop TM, Fuentes JA, and Possemato KA, Center for Integrated Healthcare;
Veterans are at an increased risk for developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders following deployment. However, rates of treatment utilization by Veterans remain low. Some perceived barriers to mental healthcare utilization include: stigmatization, concern over career status, and geographic availability of services. A possible solution is the development and implementation of internet-based interventions. This approach allows potential clients who are unlikely to use traditional, in-person, VA services a chance to engage at a treatment level at which they feel comfortable.
As part of a larger study, aimed at developing a web-based CBT treatment program for PTSD and substance misuse, focus groups were conducted to solicit feedback for such an intervention. OEF/OIF Veterans (n = 18) presented themselves for a one-hour session during which they were asked to examine and evaluate pilot materials. A semi-structured interview template was used to guide the Veterans through the focus group session.
Three themes consistently emerged from the focus groups: privacy, time commitment, and module content. The feedback received was largely positive, with participants reporting that anonymity and privacy would be important factors in their decision of whether or not to use the program. Concerns of group members included the length of each proposed treatment interaction (currently proposed to be 30 minutes) and the use of terms they viewed as stigmatizing such as PTSD and alcoholism.
The feedback received from participants suggests that web-based interventions are desired and valued by Veterans. Given a user-friendly and intuitive system, Veterans indicated that they would be likely to use the program or recommend it to others.
As large numbers of returning Veterans are suffering from emotional distress and elevated levels of substance misuse, innovative alternatives to treatment are needed. Implementing web-based interventions aimed at serving those less likely to engage in existing programs will provide a much needed public health service.