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A Randomized Clinical Trial of Clinician-Supported PTSD Coach in VA Primary Care Patients.

Possemato K, Johnson E, Barrie K, Ghaus S, Noronha D, Wade M, Greenbaum MA, Rosen C, Cloitre M, Owen J, Jain S, Beehler G, Prins A, Seal K, Kuhn E. A Randomized Clinical Trial of Clinician-Supported PTSD Coach in VA Primary Care Patients. Journal of general internal medicine. 2023 Jul 1; 38(Suppl 3):905-912.

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BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in primary care patients; however, evidence-based treatments are typically only available in specialty mental healthcare settings and often not accessed. OBJECTIVE: To test the effectiveness of a brief primary care-based treatment, Clinician-Supported PTSD Coach (CS PTSD Coach) was compared with Primary Care Mental Health Integration-Treatment as Usual (PCMHI-TAU) in (1) reducing PTSD severity, (2) engaging veterans in specialty mental health care, and (3) patient satisfaction with care. DESIGN: Multi-site randomized pragmatic clinical trial. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 234 veterans with PTSD symptoms who were not currently accessing PTSD treatment. INTERVENTION: CS PTSD Coach was designed to be implemented in Veterans Affairs PCMHI and combines mental health clinician support with the "PTSD Coach" mobile app. Four 30-min sessions encourage daily use of symptom management strategies. MAIN MEASURES: PTSD severity was measured by clinician-rated interviews pre- and post-treatment (8 weeks). Self-report measures assessed PTSD, depression, and quality of life at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 16- and 24-week follow-ups, and patient satisfaction at post-treatment. Mental healthcare utilization was extracted from medical records. KEY RESULTS: Clinician-rated PTSD severity did not differ by condition at post-treatment. CS PTSD Coach participants improved more on patient-reported PTSD severity at post-treatment than TAU participants (D? = .28, p? = .021). Coach participants who continued to have problematic PTSD symptoms at post-treatment were not more likely to engage in 2 sessions of specialty mental health treatment than TAU participants. Coach participants engaged in 74% more sessions in the intervention and reported higher treatment satisfaction than TAU participants (p? < .001). CONCLUSIONS: A structured 4-session intervention designed to align with patient preferences for care resulted in more patient-reported PTSD symptom relief, greater utilization of mental health treatment, and overall treatment satisfaction than TAU, but not more clinician-rated PTSD symptom relief or engagement in specialty mental health.

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