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Screening for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Behavioral Health

Description

Background: Non-Veteran Affair (VA) mental health care facilities are admitting increased numbers of military affiliated members due to recent changes, allowing veterans to outsource healthcare at civilian treatment centers. The VA reports less than 9 million veterans enrolled in VA

Background: Non-Veteran Affair (VA) mental health care facilities are admitting increased numbers of military affiliated members due to recent changes, allowing veterans to outsource healthcare at civilian treatment centers. The VA reports less than 9 million veterans enrolled in VA services, leaving over 50% seeking treatment from civilian providers. Given the high prevalence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the military population, it is imperative to implement a valid and reliable screening tool at primary care facilities to ensure timely and accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Method: This project aimed to provide an evidence-based education for intake nurses to understand prevalence of PTSD and to use a screening tool Primary Care PTSD for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5) in a non-VA behavioral health facility.

Setting: The project site was a civilian behavioral health facility located in West Phoenix Metropolitan area. The behavioral health facility serves mental health and substance abuse needs. Project implementation focused on the intake department.

Measures: Sociodemographic data, PTSD diagnosis criteria, prevalence and PC-PTDSD-5 screening tool knowledge collected from pre and posttest evaluation. Patients’ charts for those admitted 6-week before and 6-week after the education to calculate numbers of screening tools completed by nurses at intake assessment.

Data analysis: Descriptive statistics was used to describe the sample and key measures; the Wilcoxon Signed Rank Test was used to examine differences between pre-test and post-test scores. Cohen’s effect size was used to estimate clinical significance.

Results: A total of 23 intake nurses (87.0% female, 65.2% 20-39 years old, 52.2% Caucasian, 95.6% reported having 0-10 years of experience, 56.5% completed Associate’s degree) received the education. For PTSD-related knowledge, the pre-test score (Mdn = 6.00) was significantly lower than the post-test score (Mdn = 10.00; Z= -4.23, p < .001), suggesting an increase of PTSD knowledge among nurses after the education. Regarding the diagnosis, the percentage of patients who were diagnosed with PTSD increased from (0.02% to 20% after the education).

Discussion: An evidence-based education aimed at enhancing intake nurses’ knowledge, confidence and skills implementing a brief and no-cost PTSD screening tool showed positive results, including an increase of PTSD diagnosis. The implementation of this screening tool in a civilian primary mental health care facility was feasible and helped patients connect to PTSD treatment in a timely fashion. Continued use of paper version of screening tool will be maintained at facility as an intermediary solution until final approval through parent company is received to implement into electronic medical records.

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Date Created
2020-05-06

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Equine Assisted Learning: An Evidence-Based Intervention for Families

Description

Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy

Background: It is estimated that 50% of all mental illness arises prior to age 14, an incident attributed in part to disruptions and imbalances within the family system. Equine assisted learning is a complementary and alternative approach to family therapy which is being used increasingly to promote mental health in both adults and children. This study sought to build and deliver an evidence-based, family-centered equine assisted learning program aimed at promoting family function, family satisfaction and child social-emotional competence, and to measure its acceptability and preliminary effect.

Method: Twenty families with children 10 years and older were recruited to participate in a 3-week equine assisted learning program at a therapeutic riding center in Phoenix, Arizona. Sessions included groundwork activities with horses used to promote life skills using experiential learning theory. The study design included a mixed-method quasi-experimental one-group pretest posttest design using the following mental health instruments: Devereaux Student Strengths Assessment, Brief Family Assessment Measure (3 dimensions), and Family Satisfaction Scale to measure child social-emotional competence, family function, and family satisfaction, respectively. Acceptability was determined using a Likert-type questionnaire with open-ended questions to gain a qualitative thematic perspective of the experience.

Results: Preliminary pretest and posttest comparisons were statistically significant for improvements in family satisfaction (p = 0.001, M = -5.84, SD = 5.63), all three domains of family function (General Scale: p = 0.005, M = 6.84, SD = 9.20; Self-Rating Scale: p = 0.050, M = 6.53, SD = 12.89; and Dyadic Relationship Scale: p = 0.028, M = 3.47, SD = 7.18), and child social-emotional competence (p = 0.015, M = -4.05, SD 5.95). Effect sizes were moderate to large (d > 0.5) for all but one instrument (Self-Rating Scale), suggesting a considerable magnitude of change over the three-week period. The intervention was highly accepted among both children and adults. Themes of proximity, self-discovery, and regard for others emerged during evaluation of qualitative findings. Longitudinal comparisons of baseline and 3-month follow-up remain in-progress, a topic available for future discussion.

Discussion: Results help to validate equine assisted learning as a valuable tool in the promotion of child social-emotional intelligence strengthened in part by the promotion of family function and family satisfaction. For mental health professionals, these results serve as a reminder of the alternatives that are available, as well as the importance of partnerships within the community. For therapeutic riding centers, these results help equine professionals validate their programs and gain a foothold within the scientific community. Additionally, they invite future riding centers to follow course in incorporating evidence into their programs and examining new directions for growth within the mental health community.

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Date Created
2019-05-02