Task-shifting to improve the reach of mental health interventions for trauma patients: findings from a pilot study of trauma nurse training in patient-centered activity scheduling for PTSD and depression

Cogn Behav Ther. 2019 Nov;48(6):482-496. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2018.1541928. Epub 2018 Nov 30.


Despite high rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among traumatically injured patients, engagement in session-based psychotherapy early after trauma is limited due to various service utilization and readiness barriers. Task-shifting brief mental health interventions to routine trauma center providers is an understudied but potentially critical part of the continuum of care. This pilot study assessed the feasibility of training trauma nurses to engage patients in patient-centered activity scheduling based on a Behavioral Activation paradigm, which is designed to counteract dysfunctional avoidance/withdrawal behavior common among patients after injury. Nurses (N = 4) and patients (N = 40) were recruited from two level II trauma centers. A portion of a one day in-person workshop included didactics, demonstrations, and experiential activities to teach brief intervention delivery. Nurses completed pre- and posttraining standardized patient role-plays prior to and two months after training, which were coded for adherence to the intervention. Nurses also completed exit interviews to assess their perspectives on the training and addressing patient mental health concerns. Findings support the feasibility of training trauma nurses in a brief mental health intervention. Task-shifting brief interventions holds promise for reaching more of the population in need of posttrauma mental health care.

Keywords: Cognitive-behavioral; adherence; public health; training; trauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / complications
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Education, Nursing
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychotherapy / education*
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / education
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult