Objective: Despite heightened rates of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among in Iraq/Afghanistan veterans, the majority of distressed veterans will not receive mental health care. Overcoming barriers to mental health services requires innovative approaches to broaden the reach of evidence-based treatment. The current study examined the efficacy and acceptability of an innovative and dynamic online cognitive-behavioral therapy intervention for PTSD and depression called Vets Prevail.
Method: A randomized clinical trial conducted between 2011 and 2013 assessed changes in PTSD and depression in veterans with mild-to-moderate distress. Veterans randomized to Vets Prevail (n = 209) were aged 34.2 ± 7.6 years, mostly male (81.3%), and nonminority (73.7%). Veterans randomized to adjustment as usual (n = 94) were aged 34.7 ± 8.9, mostly male (81.9%), and White (67.0%). Veterans completed the PTSD Checklist-Military Version and the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale (10-item version) postintervention and at 12-week follow-up.
Results: Veterans in the Vets Prevail condition reported significantly greater reductions in PTSD, t(250) = 3.24, p = .001 (Mreduction = 5.51, SD = 9.63), and depression, t(252) = 4.37, p = .001 (Mreduction = 2.31, SD = 5.34), at 12-week follow-up compared with veterans in the adjustment as usual condition (PTSD Mreduction = 1.00, SD = 7.32; depression Mreduction = 0.48, SD = 4.95), with moderate effect sizes for PTSD (Cohen's d = 0.42) and depression (Cohen's d = 0.56). Exploratory analysis shows that Vets Prevail may be effective regardless of combat trauma exposure, gender, and ethnic minority status.
Conclusion: Vets Prevail circumvents many barriers to care and effectively addresses the dire mental health needs of veterans.
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