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2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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1207 — Treatment Response Trajectories in Residential PTSD Programs for Veterans: A National Cohort Investigation.

Lead/Presenter: Peter Grau,  COIN - Ann Arbor
All Authors: Grau PP (Ann Arbor), Sripada, RK (Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor) Pietzrak, RH (Yale University) Ganoczy, D (Center for Clinical Management Research, Ann Arbor) Harpaz-Rotem, I (Yale University)

Although improving residential PTSD care is a priority for the Department of Veterans Affairs, previous evaluations have been limited by a lack of systematic data collection across more than two timepoints. This study used recently available data to assess symptom trajectories in a large, national sample of veterans who engaged in residential PTSD treatment.

Group-based trajectory analysis PROC TRAJ was used to identify PTSD residential treatment response in a national cohort of veterans (n = 10,832) and the subset of veterans (n = 6,515) receiving evidence-based psychotherapy (EBP). PTSD symptoms were assessed at intake, discharge, and 4-month follow-up. Predictors of trajectory membership were estimated using multinomial models.

For the full cohort, a three-group trajectory model provided the best fit with the following identified groups: “Severe” (51.8%), “Moderate” (40.1%), and “Mild” (8.1%). For the EBP sub-cohort, a three-group trajectory model was selected with the following groups: “Severe” (55.8%), “Moderate” (34.1%), and “Mild” (7.4%). Across all trajectories, psychological distress, pain severity, substance use, Iraq/Afghanistan combat era, and non-White race were associated with poorer treatment response. In the EBP sub-cohort, homelessness and unemployment at the time of admission were also associated with poorer treatment outcomes to varying degrees.

This study demonstrates that residential treatment for PTSD is associated with heterogeneous treatment trajectories which highlight the need to continue to explore and improve residential PTSD treatment outcomes. Our results underscore the importance of obtaining follow-up data and identifying ways to maintain therapeutic gains following discharge.

These results are being used to inform potential treatment adaptations and innovative delivery approaches (e.g., massed treatment) in VA residential programs for PTSD.