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Improve Care for Veterans With PTSD: Report
Date:7/13/2012

FRIDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Access to care for U.S. military service members and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) must improve, says an Institute of Medicine report released Friday that also calls for better tracking of treatments and results.

The congressionally mandated report also said that the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs should launch research programs to evaluate the effectiveness of their PTSD programs and make the findings widely available.

In addition, service members should undergo PTSD screening at least once a year at defense department treatment centers, as is currently done for veterans seen in the VA system.

Of the active service members and veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and screened positive for PTSD symptoms, about 40 percent have received a referral for an additional evaluation or treatment. Of those referred, about 65 percent have received treatment, according to the report.

"DoD [Department of Defense] and VA offer many programs for PTSD, but treatment isn't reaching everyone who needs it, and the departments aren't tracking which treatments are being used or evaluating how well they work in the long term," report committee chair Sandro Galea, professor and chair of the department of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York City, said in an Institute of Medicine news release.

"In addition, DoD has no information on the effectiveness of its programs to prevent PTSD," Galea said.

An August 2011 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association said that as many as 20 percent of soldiers returning from war zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan develop PTSD -- a condition marked by emotional numbing, nightmares, flashbacks of terrifying events and severe anxiety.

The VA and defense department are making efforts to improve access to care for patients with PTSD, b
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