Multidisciplinary cognitive-behavioral therapy training for the veterans affairs primary care setting

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2010;12(3):PCC.09m00838. doi: 10.4088/PCC.09m00838blu.


Objective: Current research highlights the need to embed evidence-based psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) within primary care settings. Few studies have examined CBT training procedures, and no studies have examined the impact of CBT training in the primary care setting. The current study sought to describe and assess the feasibility and effectiveness of a focused CBT training program for a diverse sample of primary care mental health providers in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Method: A multidisciplinary group of 28 mental health clinicians from 6 VA medical centers and 15 community-based outpatient clinics received an intensive 1½-day CBT workshop, held in Houston, Texas, in May 2008, including didactic presentations, expert modeling, and small-group role plays. CBT experts also provided biweekly follow-up group telephone consultation calls for participants over 12 weeks to aid in development of CBT skills. Participant program evaluation surveys and self-reported CBT knowledge, ability, and utilization were measured preworkshop, postworkshop, and 3 months postworkshop. Analyses compared mean change scores at baseline to those at 3-month follow-up. Wilcoxon signed rank tests were completed, and Cohen d effect-size calculations were also computed.

Results: Statistical analyses found that participant self-reported CBT knowledge (P < .01, effect size [ES] = 0.49) was significantly improved postworkshop and maintained at 3-month follow-up. Self-reported abilities were also improved (P = .07, ES = 0.40). The potency of the training experience appeared to be enhanced by the multimodal nature of the program.

Conclusion: Although challenges exist, focused and intensive training in CBT appears feasible for multidisciplinary mental health practitioners in the primary care setting.