Health & Safety

July 16, 2012

Panel calls for annual PTSD screening

by Kevin Freking
Associated Press

The Institute of Medicine recommended July 13 that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan be screened for post-traumatic stress disorder at least once a year and that federal agencies conduct more research to determine how well the various treatments for PTSD are working.

Of the 2.6 million service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s estimated that 13 percent to 20 percent have symptoms of PTSD.

Federal agencies have increasingly dedicated more resources to screen and treat soldiers, but considerable gaps remain, according to the Institute of Medicine, an independent group of experts that advises the federal government on medical issues. Its recommendations often make their way into laws drafted by Congress and policies implemented by federal agencies.

Barely more than half of those diagnosed with PTSD actually get treatment, often because many soldiers worry it could jeopardize their careers. Also, when soldiers do get care, they’re not tracked to determine which treatments are successful in the long-term.

The Department of Defense provides medical care to active members of the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs cares for those who no longer serve. Sandro Galea, the chairman of the IOM panel, said both departments 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,” said Galea, a professor and chair of the epidemiology department at Columbia University. “In addition, DOD has no information on the effectiveness of its programs to prevent PTSD.”

The report concludes only the first phase of the Institute of Medicine study. The committee is collecting more data to judge the effectiveness of PTSD treatments used by the departments.

The institute recommended therapies supported by robust evidence, such as working with patients to change their thinking and emotional responses to stress. But the committee’s analysis of other innovative treatments, including yoga, acupuncture and animal-assisted therapy, is hampered by a lack of evidence on their effectiveness.

PTSD is triggered by a specific traumatic event, such as being in combat or witnessing death. The symptoms of the illness include a numbing of emotions, difficulty concentrating and exaggerated startled responses to events.

The panel praised the two departments for issuing joint guidelines for managing PTSD, but it’s unknown whether their providers adhere to the guidelines. The panel said that primary care doctors within the VA screen Iraq and Afghanistan veterans annually for symptoms of PTSD, and it recommends that the Defense Department do the same.

The panel said it is hopeful that the departments will make more use of therapy through videoconferences that will allow patients in remote locations to get care.

The panel also called for more research to shed light on the brain’s defense mechanisms for stress, identify factors that can influence the timing and severity of symptoms and identify signs that could help lead to earlier diagnosis and more precise drug treatments.

The report said that the VA treated more than 438,000 veterans for PTSD in 2010, showing evidence of the widespread scope of the problem.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 29, 2014

News: U.S. military limits warplanes used for Islamic State bombingsĀ - The U.S. is relying mostly on warplanes already positioned in the region for its air war against the Islamic State, as opposed to dispatching a major buildup of aerial forces that happened in previous campaigns.   Business: At DOD, it’s use-it-or-lose-it seasonĀ - As fiscal 2014...
 
 

News Briefs September 29, 2014

Navy awards ship design grant to UNO The University of New Orleans has received a $210,000 grant from the Navy s Office of Naval Research to test information gathering and analysis techniques intended to improve warship design. The goal for warship designers is to produce a vessel that can be repurposed numerous times throughout its...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

TACP-M ties it all together

Air National Guard photograph by SSgt. Lealan Buehrer Tactical air control party specialists with the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron survey an enemy-controlled landing zone before calling in close-air support Aug. 14, 20...
 

 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Nellis aggressor squadron inactivated

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler SSgt. Justin White signals to Maj. Sam Joplin to begin taxiing a 65th Aggressor Squadron F-15 Eagle to the runway Sept. 18, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base Nev. The roles and responsib...
 
 
Army photograph by SSgt. Mary S. Katzenberger

82nd Airborne helps commemorate 70th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden

Army photograph by SSgt. Mary S. Katzenberger A paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division, reflects near the grave of a British paratrooper at the Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery, Sept. 14, 2014, in the Netherlands. The...
 
 

Raytheon awarded $251 million Tomahawk missile contract

The U.S. Navy has awarded Raytheon a $251 million contract to procure Tomahawk Block IV tactical cruise missiles for fiscal year 2014 with an option for 2015. The contract calls for Raytheon to build and deliver Tomahawk Block IV cruise missiles to the U.S. Navy and U.K. Royal Navy. Raytheon will also conduct flight tests...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>