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Could Enhanced Primary Care Improve the Outcome for Certain Mental Disorders?

June 20th, 2016

A recent study on veterans has applications that could easily transfer to civilians with mental disorders like depression and PTSD as well. The study showed that enhanced primary care which included telephone therapy options, care managers with specialized training, and other primary care interventions could improve the outcome for veterans who were suffering from PTSD or depression. Researchers involved with the study were associated with RAND Corporation, the Department of Defense Deployment Health Clinical Center, and RTI International. The researchers determined that those who went to a primary care clinic with PTSD and depression experienced fewer symptoms over the next year and had better mental health. The study results were recently published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal in the online edition.

Dr. Charles Engel was the lead author of the study on mental disorders and enhanced primary care. According to Dr. Engel “Although the improvements were modest, the reach of the program can be large and has the potential to bring more people under a high-quality treatment umbrella sooner. These findings suggest that the military health system might use this strategy to extend the reach of mental health care and reduce time to first treatment for PTSD and depression.” Dr. Engel went on to explain “Our findings are consistent with what has been observed in nonmilitary health care settings. This approach results in better outcomes and improves access to high-quality care. This is particularly important for a population that has a demonstrated need for mental health services. The results support the idea that high-quality mental health care can be provided in primary care settings. While many military members are reluctant to seek out mental health specialists, they are more willing to receive primary medical care. So this is a good way to encourage more people to receive mental health care, while also improving the quality of mental health services for military members.”

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