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- Categorized in: August 2012, Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), PTSD, TBI
Higher PTSD Rates Increase Workload for VHA Staffers
The workload for VHA specialty mental-health care staff has significantly increased in the last decade, with both the number treated and intensity of treatment increasing for veterans with PTSD.
The increases were attributed not only to servicemembers returning from recent conflicts but also to veterans from the Vietnam era, partly because of surges in PTSD treatment funding and program expansion since 2005, according to a recent study. That study, published in the journal Psychiatric Services, compared the VA’s mental health workload from 2005-1010 to 1997-2005.1
Researchers used VHA administrative databases to find all veterans receiving specialty mental-health treatment annually between 2005 and 2010. Veterans then were categorized by military service era (WWII or Korea, Vietnam, post-Vietnam, Persian Gulf War [including operations in Iraq and Afghanistan] and peacetime or other), diagnosis (PTSD or a non-PTSD mental disorder) and deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Results showed that the number of veterans served per year increased by 623,326 (117.6%) between 1997 and 2010. The greatest increases were among veterans with PTSD, compared with other mental disorders.
Interestingly, Vietnam veterans were the majority of all veterans treated for PTSD or for other mental disorders, and their number continued to grow during the study period.
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans had the highest rate of increase in the number of visits per veteran with PTSD between 2006 and 2010, with the burgeoning rates during those years reversing previous trends.
1. Hermes ED, Rosenheck RA, Desai R, Fontana AF. Recent Trends in the Treatment of
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Disorders in the VHA. Psychiatr Serv.
2012 May 1;63(5):471-6. PubMed PMID: 22422018.
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