The Use of a Novel Peer Education Program for Improving PTSD Treatment Engagement Among Veterans (AboutFace)

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VA Office of Research and Development

Status

Completed

Conditions

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD

Treatments

Other: Enhanced Usual Care (eUC)
Behavioral: AboutFace

Study type

Interventional

Funder types

Other U.S. Federal agency

Identifiers

NCT03521999
IIR 17-123

Details and patient eligibility

About

Behavioral health problems among Veterans have raised awareness of the critical need for more reliable, effective, and accessible ways to recognize those in need, direct them to help, and ensure that they receive the best evidence-based care available. AboutFace is a novel peer education program that features the personal stories of Veterans and is designed to improve Veterans' likelihood of engaging in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) specialty care. Using a randomized controlled study design the investigators propose to compare the efficacy of AboutFace relative to standard care for improving treatment engagement and outcomes. Additional data from VA providers will provide valuable information on wide scale implementation and dissemination of AboutFace. If AboutFace increases access of services, data will have broad implications for overcoming barriers to care for Veterans with PTSD and other stigmatized conditions.

Full description

Anticipated Impacts on Veterans Health Care: Behavioral health problems among Veterans have raised awareness of the critical need for more reliable, effective, and accessible means to recognize those in need, direct them to help, and ensure that they receive the best treatment available. Research has suggested that people are most responsive to advice and education when it comes from someone to whom they can relate. AboutFace is a peer education resource for Veterans that was developed, launched, and recently updated by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) based on Health Services Research \&Development (HSR\&D) funded pilot data. AboutFace features personal stories of Veterans and is designed to improve mental health treatment engagement among Veterans with PTSD and related comorbidities. The study team, which includes the NCPTSD, recently completed a usability assessment and pilot feasibility trial of AboutFace under HSR\&D grant #14-360-1. Data from this study (1) guided improvements to AboutFace for increasing PTSD treatment initiation and engagement; and (2) demonstrated the feasibility of the methodology for the proposed study. If AboutFace is found to increase Veterans' initiation and engagement in PTSD treatment, study data will have broad implications for overcoming barriers to care for Veterans with PTSD and other stigmatized conditions. Background: At least 1 in 10 Veterans meet criteria for PTSD related to their military experience. Treatment for PTSD is widely available, and national dissemination initiatives have increased Veterans' access to best-practice interventions. However, treatment-seeking remains strikingly low; most Veterans with PTSD do not seek mental health services due to perceived stigma and other barriers. NCPTSD developed and launched AboutFace, a public awareness campaign to help Veterans recognize PTSD and motivate them to seek evidence-based care. Since its development, AboutFace has earned three major awards and has had tens of thousands of visits. Despite the tremendous potential for AboutFace to reduce stigma, improve attitudes toward mental health treatment seeking, and to increase PTSD treatment initiation and engagement, it has yet to be formally evaluated or effectively implemented within Veterans Health Administration (VHA) practice settings. In addition to providing needed data on the efficacy of AboutFace and identifying strategies for effective implementation within VHA, this study will provide a greater understanding of the role and value of digital storytelling interventions to improve access to care for a wide range of stigmatized conditions. Objectives: The primary objectives of the study are to examine the impact of AboutFace on a) increasing PTSD treatment initiation and engagement; and b) decreasing stigma and negative attitudes toward mental health services. It is anticipated that Veterans in the AboutFace condition will be more likely to access and complete treatment than those receiving enhanced Usual Care (eUC) for PTSD. Finally, qualitative interviews with key stakeholders across the nation will be conducted to inform best practices for future implementation of AboutFace. Methods: A total of 376 Veterans referred for a PTSD assessment and recommended for treatment in the Charleston PTSD clinic will be enrolled in the study. Veterans will be randomized to receive AboutFace versus eUC. All Veterans will receive standard PTSD educational materials, and half will also be randomly assigned to receive AboutFace. Comparisons will be made across indices of treatment engagement \[i.e., initiated treatment (yes/no), total number of sessions completed;\]; changes in stigma and attitudes toward seeking mental health treatment; and changes in PTSD symptoms and quality of life. Veterans will be assessed on these indices at baseline, 1-month, 3-month, and 6-months.

Enrollment

330 patients

Sex

All

Ages

18+ years old

Volunteers

No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Veterans must be referred for a PTSD evaluation through the Charleston VAMC PTSD Clinic Team (PCT) and Telehealth Programs and recommended for PTSD specialty care through the clinic.

Exclusion criteria

  • None

Trial design

Primary purpose

Health Services Research

Allocation

Randomized

Interventional model

Parallel Assignment

Masking

Single Blind

330 participants in 2 patient groups, including a placebo group

AboutFace
Active Comparator group
Description:
Veterans in the AboutFACe arm will receive access to an online peer-to-peer digital storytelling resource for Veterans with PTSD
Treatment:
Behavioral: AboutFace
Enhanced Usual Care (eUC)
Placebo Comparator group
Description:
Veterans in the Enhanced Usual Care (eUC) arm will receive an education brochure for PTSD
Treatment:
Other: Enhanced Usual Care (eUC)

Trial documents
1

Trial contacts and locations

1

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Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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