Simplifying PTSD Treatment With Virtual Care

January 30, 2017 by InTouch Health

Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are now receiving telehealth treatment that’s every bit as effective as in-person visits. It’s an encouraging alternative for veterans who otherwise would have to drive to a Veterans Affairs (VA) clinic for up to 15 weekly sessions.

In a recent six-month study highlighted in Behavior Research and Therapy, 66 veterans were treated at VA clinics while the other 66 were treated remotely using telehealth technology. All the participants were assessed using standard PTSD scales that measure symptom severity and depression.

During the six-month trial, each participant received up to 12 prolonged exposure therapy sessions – lengthy encounters that help the patient confront memories and situations that trigger PTSD symptoms.

Head researcher Ron Acierno told Reuters Health that “our effects with PTSD were just as good with home-based telehealth as with in-person treatment.” Telehealth is also being used to connect recovered PTSD patients with those receiving prolonged exposure therapy. “We’ve had tremendous response combining home telehealth with peer support during exposure,” added Acierno.

The study revealed that telehealth therapy takes time to reach full effectiveness. The at-home treatment scores for depression were not as good as in-person scores at the three-month mark, but reached parity by six months.

Acierno feels that telehealth treatment is ideal for PTSD patients who can’t afford to take time off work, or want to avoid the stigma of being seen at a VA clinic. “With telehealth, we can now save the travel time and bring the treatment right to them.”