Background: Over 1 million Veterans have PTSD and most (80% or more) do not receive first-line treatments, evidence-based psychotherapies, despite significant VA investment to increase access to these treatments. Clinicians often struggle to engage Veterans in evidence-based psychotherapies because they can be emotionally challenging treatments. Engagement could be catalyzed by mental health providers integrated into primary care (i.e., VA’s Primary Care-Mental Health Integration, or PC-MHI) to maximize the reach of engagement efforts beyond specialty PTSD settings. Shared decision making, a process by which the patient and provider discuss treatment options, weigh benefits and risks, and select a treatment that meets the patient’s needs, addresses known patient and provider barriers to evidence-based psychotherapies, including knowledge, self-efficacy, and trust. However, no study has examined shared decision making for PTSD in primary care. The proposal will address this knowledge gap by developing and refining a shared decision making intervention for PTSD, Patient Readiness for Improvement through Motivation, Engagement, and Decision-making (PRIMED), using input from Veterans with diverse perspectives, PC-MHI providers, and VA operational partners to optimize integration of shared decision making into clinical care. We will collect acceptability and feasibility data to support an application for a future effectiveness-implementation trial. Significance/Impact: Dr. Chen’s proposed research addresses three HSR&D and VA priorities: 1) increase engagement and retention of Veterans in evidence-based PTSD treatments, 2) advance health services research methods, specifically implementation science and user-centered design, which focuses on thorough integration of Veteran and frontline provider input, and 3) support suicide prevention efforts through effective treatment of PTSD, a major risk factor for suicide. Innovation: The proposed project will promote significant change in current VA clinical practice. PC-MHI providers typically refer out patients with PTSD and defer discussions about treatment options to specialty providers. This proposal will help PC-MHI providers use a formal engagement strategy, shared decision making, to improve patients’ knowledge of first-line PTSD treatments and to build motivation for care. Specific Aims: 1) Refine PRIMED using user-centered design methods and diverse Veterans’ perspectives, 2) Beta test PRIMED in one rural and one urban PC-MHI clinic to optimize integration into clinical workflow and achieve satisfactory acceptability and feasibility across a range of settings, 3) Conduct a small, randomized pilot trial (N=40) of PRIMED vs. usual care in two VA PC-MHI clinics to assess the feasibility of study procedures, which will inform a future larger trial. Methodology: In Aim 1, Dr. Chen will conduct qualitative interviews using user-centered design methods with 25 VA PC-MHI patients with PTSD, oversampling women veterans and racial/ethnic minority veterans, to refine the PRIMED intervention protocol. In Aim 2, Dr. Chen will use rapid, iterative beta-testing with approximately 20 patients to optimize the acceptability and feasibility of delivering PRIMED in the clinical setting and its integration into clinical workflow across varied settings (small rural clinics and large urban clinics). In Aim 3, Dr. Chen will conduct a pilot randomized feasibility trial (N=40) to assess the feasibility of recruiting and randomizing Veterans and measuring treatment engagement and clinical outcomes. Next Steps/Implementation: The research and training activities will prepare the nominee to conduct a multi- site, hybrid type 1 effectiveness-implementation trial to test the effectiveness of PRIMED for increasing receipt of first-line PTSD treatments and to begin to assess implementation barriers and facilitators. Future work to move this research into practice would involve collaborating with operational partners to improve VA SAIL performance measures in mental health, which are weighted to encourage evidence-based psychotherapies.
NIH Reporter Project Information
- Chen JA, Glass JE, Bensley KMK, Goldberg SB, Lehavot K, Williams EC. Racial/ethnic and gender differences in receipt of brief intervention among patients with unhealthy alcohol use in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration. Journal of substance abuse treatment. 2020 Dec 1; 119:108078.
- Glynn LH, Chen JA, Dawson TC, Gelman H, Zeliadt SB. Bringing chronic-pain care to rural veterans: A telehealth pilot program description. Psychological Services. 2021 Aug 1; 18(3):310-318.
- Chen JA. Capsule Commentary on Sullivan et al., Primary Care Opioid Taper Plans Are Associated with Sustained Opioid Dose Reduction. Journal of general internal medicine. 2020 Mar 1; 35(3):980.
Mental, Cognitive and Behavioral Disorders
Technology Development and Assessment, Treatment - Implementation, TRL - Applied/Translational
Adjustment Disorders, Career Development, Rural
None at this time.