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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

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

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

McLay R.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Ram V.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Murphy J.,Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control | Spira J.,National Centers for | And 4 more authors.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking

Virtual reality (VR) is an emerging tool to help treat posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Previously published studies have shown that VR graded exposure therapy (VR-GET) treatment can result in improvements in PTSD symptoms. Less is known about the impact on depression, general anxiety, and neuropsychological functioning in patients with PTSD. This study examined changes in self-reports of PTSD, depression, and anxiety before and after treatment, and also examined neuropsychological functioning as assessed by a computerized test of simple reaction time, procedural reaction time, and performance on the congruent, incongruent, emotional, and neutral (match the color of the "nonsense word") Stroop tests. Results showed that subjects treated with VR-GET showed significant reductions in PTSD and anxiety severity and significant improvements on the emotional Stroop test. Changes in depression and other measures of neuropsychological function were not significant. Change scores on the emotional Stroop test did not correlate with changes in self-report measures of PTSD. Overall, these findings support the use of VR-GET as a treatment for PTSD but indicate that benefits may be narrowly focused. Additional treatments may be needed after or alongside VR-GET for service members with neuropsychological impairments. © 2014, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 2014. Source

McLay R.N.,Naval Medical Center San Diego | Graap K.,CNS Response | Spira J.,National Center for | Perlman K.,Private Practice | And 10 more authors.
Military Medicine

This study was an open-label, single-group, treatment-development project aimed at developing and testing a method for applying virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET) to active duty service members diagnosed with combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Forty-two service members with PTSD were enrolled, and 20 participants completed treatment. The PTSD Checklist-Military version, Patient Health Questionnaire-9 for depression, and the Beck Anxiety Inventory were used as outcome measures. Of those who completed post-treatment assessment, 75% had experienced at least a 50% reduction in PTSD symptoms and no longer met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD at post treatment. Average PSTD scores decreased by 50.4%, depression scores by 46.6%, and anxiety scores by 36%. Intention-to-treat analyses showed that statistically significant improvements in PTSD, depression, and anxiety occurred over the course of treatment and were maintained at follow up. There were no adverse events associated with VRET treatment. This study provides preliminary support for the use of VRET in combat-related PTSD. Further study will be needed to determine the wider utility of the method and to determine if it offers advantages over other established PTSD treatment modalities. © Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S. 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

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

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