WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should track the outcomes of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provided to service members and veterans and develop a coordinated and comprehensive strategy to do so, says a new congressionally mandated report from the Institute of Medicine. Without tracking outcomes, neither DOD nor VA knows whether it is providing effective or adequate PTSD care, for which they spent $294 million and more than $3 billion, respectively, in 2012. The report is the second of a two-phase assessment of PTSD services for service members and veterans and echoes the findings of the first report, issued in 2012.
An estimated 5 percent of all service members in the military health system have been diagnosed with PTSD, and the prevalence is 8 percent for those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, the report notes. The number of veterans of all eras who sought care for PTSD from the VA more than doubled from 2003 to 2012 -- from approximately 190,000 veterans (4.3 percent of all VA users) in 2003 to more than a half million veterans (9.2 percent of all VA users) in 2012. For those treated for PTSD in the VA system in 2012, 23.6 percent (119,500) were veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
DOD and VA have a multitude of programs and services that range in their intensity to prevent, screen for, diagnose, and treat current and former service members who have PTSD or who are at risk for it. Right now, DOD's PTSD treatment programs appear to be local, ad hoc, incremental, and crisis-driven, with little planning devoted to the development of a long-range approach to obtaining desired outcomes, the report says. VA's PTSD programs have a more unified organizational structure, and the agency is able to ensure more consistency of treatment. However, without data on which treatments patients are receiving and whether they are improving as a result of their treatment, t
|Contact: Jennifer Walsh|
National Academy of Sciences