A brief therapeutic intervention called motivational interviewing, administered over the telephone, was significantly more effective than a simple "check-in" call in getting Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans with mental health diagnoses to begin treatment for their conditions, in a study led by a physician at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.
Participants receiving telephone motivational interviewing also were significantly more likely to stay in therapy, and reported reductions in marijuana use and a decreased sense of stigma associated with mental health treatment.
The study was published electronically recently in General Hospital Psychiatry (May 25, 2012).
Lead author Karen Seal, MD, MPH, director of the Integrated Care Clinic at SFVAMC and an associate professor of medicine and psychiatry at UCSF, noted that 52 percent of the approximately half-million Iraq and Afghanistan veterans currently being seen by the VA have one or more mental health diagnoses, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety or other related conditions.
"The VA has gone to extraordinary lengths to provide these veterans with state-of-the-art, evidence-based mental health treatment," she said. "The irony is that they are not necessarily engaging in this treatment. This study was positioned to try to connect our veterans with the treatments that are available to them."
Motivational interviewing, in which counselors encourage clients to explore and articulate discrepancies between their core values and their actual behaviors, has been used successfully as a psychotherapeutic intervention in other settings, said Seal.
"Articulating to the counselor how they want to change can motivate someone to make actual behavioral changes, such as engaging in treatment," said Seal. "The counselor then supports the client's perception that they can actually make these
|Contact: Steve Tokar |
University of California - San Francisco