Effects of an outreach intervention on use of mental health services by veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder

  • McFall M
  • Malte C
  • Fontana A
 et al. 
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Objective: The study examined the effectiveness of an outreach
intervention designed to increase access to mental health treatment
among veterans disabled by chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
and identified patient-reported barriers to care associated with failure
to seek. the treatment offered, Methods: Participants were 594 male
Vietnam veterans who were not enrolled in mental health care at a
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center but who
were-receiving VA disability benefits for PTSD, Half the sample was
randomly assigned to an outreach intervention, and the other half was
assigned to-a control group. Veterans in the intervention group received
a mailing that included a brochure describing PTSD treatment available
at an urban VA medical center, along with a letter informing them about
how to access care. Participants in the intervention group were
subsequently telephoned by a; study coordinator who encouraged them to
enroll in PTSD treatment and who administered a survey assessing
barriers to care. Results: Veterans in the intervention group were
significantly more likely than those in the control group to schedule an
intake appointment (28 percent versus 7 percent), attend the intake (23
percent versus 7 percent), and enroll in treatment (19 percent versus 6
percent). Several patient-identified barriers were associated with
failure to seek VA mental health care, such as personal obligations that
prevented clinic attendance, inconvenient clinic hours, and current
receipt of mental health treatment from a non-VA provider. Conclusions:
Utilization of-mental health services among underserved veterans with
PTSD can be increased by an inexpensive outreach intervention, which may
be useful with other chronically mentally ill populations.

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  • M McFall

  • C Malte

  • A Fontana

  • R A Rosenheck

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