VA rolls out telehealth program aimed at veterans with PTSD

The Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Rural Health is collaborating with the VA's Quality Enhancement Research Initiative to increase access to mental healthcare for rural veterans via telehealth, the agency announced March 6.

The agency is launching a pilot telehealth program that will give rural patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder remote access to psychotherapy and related services. The project will be led by John Forney, PhD, a research health scientist at the Seattle-based VA Puget Sound Health Care System.

"Our researchers have worked diligently in recent years to establish the safety and efficacy of PTSD psychotherapy delivered remotely, ensuring Veterans will get the same quality of PTSD care as if they were in a doctor's office at a VA medical center," VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said in a press release. "We are excited to see this program help greater numbers of Veterans living in rural areas and pleased that it will save them time and effort to get to a VA facility that is far from their homes."

According to the VA, more than 500 rural veterans not receiving specialty PTSD care have enrolled in the study. Participants choose one of two main forms of evidence-based, trauma-focused psychotherapy deployed by the VA: cognitive processing therapy and prolonged exposure therapy.

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