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Litz B.T.,Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center | Litz B.T.,Boston University | Schorr Y.,Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center | Delaney E.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | And 8 more authors.
Behaviour Research and Therapy | Year: 2014

This trial assessed the feasibility, acceptability, tolerability, and efficacy of an Internet-based therapist-assisted cognitive-behavioral indicated prevention intervention for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) called Healthy Experiences After Loss (HEAL). Eighty-four bereaved individuals at risk for PGD were randomized to either an immediate treatment group (n=41) or a waitlist control group (n=43). Assessments were conducted at four time-points: prior to the wait-interval (for the waitlist group), pre-intervention, post-intervention, 6 weeks later, and 3 months later (for the immediate group only). Intent-to-treat analyses indicated that HEAL was associated with large reductions in prolonged grief (d=1.10), depression (d=71), anxiety (d=51), and posttraumatic stress (d=91). Also, significantly fewer participants in the immediate group met PGD criteria post-intervention than in the waitlist group. Pooled data from both groups also yielded significant reductions and large effect sizes in PGD symptom severity at each follow-up assessment. The intervention required minimal professional oversight and ratings of satisfaction with treatment and usability of the Internet interface were high. HEAL has the potential to be an effective, well-tolerated tool to reduce the burden of significant pre-clinical PGD. Further research is needed to refine HEAL and to assess its efficacy and mechanisms of action in a large-scale trial. © 2014. Source


Syme M.L.,San Diego State University | Delaney E.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Wachen J.S.,Boston University | Gosian J.,Harvard University | Moye J.,Harvard University
Journal of Psychosocial Oncology | Year: 2013

Little is known about the sexual well-being of male Veteran cancer survivors, or the relationship of sexual concerns to psychosocial adaptation postcancer. This study examined the association between sexual self-esteem and psychosocial concerns in male Veteran cancer survivors. Forty-one male survivors were recruited from a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital to participate in a pilot study addressing cancer survivorship care for Veterans. Sixty-to 90-minute interviews were conducted, assessing sociodemographic, medical, stress/burden (cancer-related posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression), and resource (social support, post-traumatic growth) variables. Twenty-one (51.2%) Veteran cancer survivors reported lowered sexual self-esteem as a result of cancer, which corresponded to significantly higher levels of depression and cancer-related PTSD. The lowered sexual self-esteem group also indicated significantly lower social support. Veteran cancer survivors with lowered sexual self-esteem tend to have higher levels of stress and lower levels of resources, putting them at risk for lowered quality of life. This increased risk highlights the importance of addressing sexual well-being in the survivorship care of Veterans. © 2013 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Source


Schmitz K.J.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Schmied E.A.,Naval Health Research Center | Webb-Murphy J.A.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Hammer P.S.,United Health Centers | And 6 more authors.
Military Medicine | Year: 2012

Military personnel deployed in support of combat operations are at significantly higher risk for mental health problems. However, much of what we know about combat-related mental health comes from postdeployment assessments. This study describes the mental health of 1,336 treatment-seeking deployed U.S. military personnel and interventions recommended by military mental health providers in Iraq from January 2006 to January 2007. Cases were primarily young enlisted men, most of whom were on their first combat deployment. Marines made up the majority of the cases (60%), but there were also large numbers of Army and Navy personnel. The most common psychiatric diagnoses were anxiety disorders (31%, including 11% with posttraumatic stress disorder), followed by adjustment (27%) and mood disorders (25%, including 22% with depression). Medication was the most commonly prescribed treatment for patients with psychiatric diagnoses but was often combined with recommendations for psychotherapy/ counseling and/or behavioral modifications. The findings illustrate the distribution of mental health conditions seen among treatment-seeking troops while actively serving in a combat environment and the interventions recommended for them. Further examination of postdeployment health outcomes may help to facilitate the development of more effective acute intervention strategies in theater. © Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. Source


McLay R.N.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Wood D.P.,The Virtual Reality Medical Center | Webb-Murphy J.A.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Spira J.L.,National Centers for | And 3 more authors.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking | Year: 2011

Virtual reality (VR)-based therapy has emerged as a potentially useful means to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but randomized studies have been lacking for Service Members from Iraq or Afghanistan. This study documents a small, randomized, controlled trial of VR-graded exposure therapy (VR-GET) versus treatment as usual (TAU) for PTSD in Active Duty military personnel with combat-related PTSD. Success was gauged according to whether treatment resulted in a 30 percent or greater improvement in the PTSD symptom severity as assessed by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) after 10 weeks of treatment. Seven of 10 participants improved by 30 percent or greater while in VR-GET, whereas only 1 of the 9 returning participants in TAU showed similar improvement. This is a clinically and statistically significant result (χ2=6.74, p<0.01, relative risk 3.2). Participants in VR-GET improved an average of 35 points on the CAPS, whereas those in TAU averaged a 9-point improvement (p<0.05). The results are limited by small size, lack of blinding, a single therapist, and comparison to a relatively uncontrolled usual care condition, but did show VR-GET to be a safe and effective treatment for combat-related PTSD. © Copyright 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Source


McLay R.N.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Webb-Murphy J.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Hammer P.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Volkert S.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Klam W.,Naval Medical Center San Diego
CNS Spectrums | Year: 2012

Introduction. Risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) varies in part due to the nature of the traumatic event involved. Both injury and return from combat pose high risk of PTSD symptoms. How different injuries may predispose towards PTSD is less well understood. Methods. A retrospective record review was conducted from 1402 service members who had returned to Naval Medical Center San Diego from Iraq or Afghanistan and who had completed the PTSD Checklist as part of their post-deployment screening. Rates of PTSD were examined in relation to mechanism of injury. Results. Of those without injury, 8% met Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criteria for PTSD. Thirteen percent of those with a penetrating injury, 29% with blunt trauma, and 33% with combination injuries met criteria for PTSD. PTSD severity scores varied significantly according to type of injury. Discussion. The World War I concept of "shell shock" implied that blast-related injuries were more likely to result in psychological symptoms than were other injuries. These data may support that idea. Circumstance of injury, population differences, and reporting bias could also have influenced the results. Conclusion. These results suggest that service members with blunt or combination injuries merit particular attention when screening for PTSD. © Cambridge University Press 2012. Source

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