Ensuring Active Duty Service Members Receive Evidence-Based Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress: A Program Evaluation of Behavioral Health Services at Ft. Bliss, TX
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating mental health disorder that affects as many as 20% of Veterans who have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and is often comorbid with other physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairments. In addition to a lower quality of life and functional impairment for these Veterans, annual healthcare costs are $3 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and $294 million for the Department of Defense (DoD).
Mentally healthy and functional service members who return to duty lower the financial burden on the military healthcare system and increase overall combat readiness. The VA and DoD have issued an evidence-based PTSD clinical practice guideline (CPG), but previous studies had revealed that adherence to guidelines is low.
Students used a staff survey and retrospective chart review to compare perception of providers’ knowledge and adherence to the CPG treatment guidelines to data from soldiers’ Electronic Medical Records over the course of 3 clinic encounters.
Our students found that at Fort Bliss, more than 90% of service members were receiving evidence-based treatment for PTSD symptoms.
They made additional recommendations for policy development, practice modifications, and staff education which were well received by behavioral health leadership and steps are already underway to improve standardization of documentation and a guideline champion is helping to disseminate information and educate the department on updated recommendations.