Sunday, September 27, 2009

Telemedicine to Help PTSD

The Department of Veterans Affairs is sponsoring a clinical trial to study how to improve outcomes for veterans with PTSD being treated in small VA Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOC) with patients that have newly emerging or chronic PTSD. Although psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy treatments for PTSD have been proven to help in controlled trials, geographic barriers often prevent veterans from accessing these evidence-based treatments so telemedicine may very well be the answer.

The study is going to evaluate Telemedicine Outreach for PTSD that builds on the evidence base of quality improvement for depression in primary care settings. The study will employ an off-site PTSD care team comprised of a telepsychiatrist and telepsychologist and telenurse care manager. A telepharmacist will also provide medication management by phone.

The dedicated nurse telephone care manager will educate and activate patients to identify treatment preferences, discuss how to overcome treatment barriers, monitor symptoms, provide information on side effects, how to adhere to the program, help patients identify psychiatric co-morbidities, and encourage patient self management.

The telepsychologists will provide Cognitive Processing Therapy via interactive video and telepsychiatrists will supervise the off-site care team as well as conduct consultations and provide medication management via interactive videos.

Approximately 400 veterans 18 years or older with PTSD will be recruited from nine CBOCs in VISN 16 and VISN 22. Veterans screening positive for PTSD or those already in active treatment will be recruited. Patients actively involved in specialty PTSD treatment at the parent VAMC will be excluded. The estimated date for the study completion is December 2012.

For information on the study (NCT00821678) go to or email Michael McCarther at or call (501) 257-1227.