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Evaluation of the Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health-Veterans Enhanced Treatment Suicide Risk Modeling Clinical Program in the Veterans Health Administration.

McCarthy JF, Cooper SA, Dent KR, Eagan AE, Matarazzo BB, Hannemann CM, Reger MA, Landes SJ, Trafton JA, Schoenbaum M, Katz IR. Evaluation of the Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health-Veterans Enhanced Treatment Suicide Risk Modeling Clinical Program in the Veterans Health Administration. JAMA Network Open. 2021 Oct 1; 4(10):e2129900.

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IMPORTANCE: The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) implemented a national clinical program using a suicide risk prediction algorithm, Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health-Veterans Enhanced Treatment (REACH VET), in which clinicians facilitate care enhancements for individuals identified in local top 0.1% suicide risk tiers. Evaluation studies are needed. OBJECTIVE: To determine associations with treatment engagement, health care utilization, suicide attempts, safety plan documentation, and 6-month mortality. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: This cohort study used triple differences analyses comparing 6-month changes in outcomes after vs before program entry for individuals entering the REACH VET program (March 2017-December 2018) vs a similarly identified top 0.1% suicide risk tier cohort from prior to program initiation (March 2014-December 2015), adjusting for trends across subthreshold cohorts. Subcohort analyses (including individuals from March 2017-June 2018) evaluated difference-in-differences for cause-specific mortality using death certificate data. The subthreshold cohorts included individuals in the top 0.3% to 0.1% suicide risk tier, below the threshold for REACH VET eligibility, from the concurrent REACH VET period and from the pre-REACH VET period. Data were analyzed from December 2019 through September 2021. EXPOSURES: REACH VET-designated clinicians treatment reevaluation and outreach for care enhancements, including safety planning, increased monitoring, and interventions to enhance coping. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Process outcomes included VHA scheduled, completed, and missed appointments; mental health visits; and safety plan documentation and documentation within 6 months for individuals without plans within the prior 2 years. Clinical outcomes included mental health admissions, emergency department visits, nonfatal suicide attempts, and all-cause, suicide, and nonsuicide external-cause mortality. RESULTS: A total of 173?313 individuals (mean [SD] age, 51.0 [14.7] years; 161?264 [93.1%] men and 12?049 [7.0%] women) were included in analyses, including 40?816 individuals eligible for REACH VET care and 36?604 individuals from the pre-REACH VET period in the top 0.1% of suicide risk. The REACH VET intervention was associated with significant increases in completed outpatient appointments (adjusted triple difference [ATD], 0.31; 95% CI, 0.06 to 0.55) and proportion of individuals with new safety plans (ATD, 0.08; 95% CI, 0.06 to 0.10) and reductions in mental health admissions (ATD, -0.08; 95% CI, -0.10 to -0.05), emergency department visits (ADT, -0.03; 95% CI, -0.06 to -0.01), and suicide attempts (ADT, -0.05; 95% CI, -0.06 to -0.03). Subcohort analyses did not identify differences in suicide or all-cause mortality (eg, age-and-sex-adjusted difference-in-difference for suicide mortality, 0.0007; 95% CI, -0.0006 to 0.0019). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: These findings suggest that REACH VET implementation was associated with greater treatment engagement and new safety plan documentation and fewer mental health admissions, emergency department visits, and suicide attempts. Clinical programs using risk modeling may be effective tools to support care enhancements and risk reduction.

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