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MIRECC/CoE Mental Health Innovations Newsletter - January 2015

Research topic on PTSD and Sleep Education topic on provider education Clinical topic on tele-health

Advances in Technology Serving Veterans


eScreening Facilitates Mental Health Assessment

A research team led by Niloo Afari, PhD, and James Pittman, LCSW, at the VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health (CESAMH), has developed and tested a new web-based, mental health screening process for Veterans. Results of the study show it facilitates mental health screening and documentation of results for new Veterans enrolling in the system. Using web-based screening with tablets, eScreening automatically evaluates and integrates screening results of posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, general anxiety, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, substance abuse, pain, and other symptoms into a Veteran’s medical record. It also provides clinical reminders and clinical-note documentation and immediately generates customized, patient-centered reports and education materials for eScreening improves mental health screening and documentation and reduces related costs, and Veterans love using the technologyVeterans. “eScreening improves mental health screening and documentation and reduces related costs, and Veterans love using the technology,” said Pittman. When the new system was compared with traditional paper screening, Veterans who completed eScreening were significantly more satisfied than those who underwent paper screening. Although eScreening took about five minutes longer for Veterans to complete, it reduced clinician documentation time by an average of 17 minutes. It also resulted in a significantly greater percentage of completed clinical reminders, 99-100% compared with 89%-93%. Overall, eScreening was more efficient, reducing clinician burden and redundant screening. It also increased access to screening and timely referral to appropriate services without requiring more staff. eScreening is currently available only in the San Diego VA Medical Center, but the CESAMH and VA Center of Innovation are developing an enhanced version, expected to be available at multiple VA sites. For more information, contact Dr. Afari at or James Pittman at


Evaluation of Web-Based Training for Veteran-Centered Brief Family Consultation

VA develops and tests a web-based training for clinicians.

Web-based training for mental health clinicians in Veteran-Centered Brief Family Consultation (VCBFC) will be assessed in a randomized, controlled trial of 90 clinicians at six VA facilities. Although VA has mandated that all VA medical centers and very large community-based outpatient clinics provide VCBFC to Veterans with serious mental illness, training efforts related to VCBFC have been very limited. The standard training strategy of an in-person workshop is impractical in training large numbers of clinicians in the intervention. If shown to be effective, the web-based training, developed by Dr. Noosha Niv in the VISN 22 MIRECC, would be a more practical approach to training large numbers of clinicians. The study will assess the effectiveness of web-based training by comparing it to in-person training and to a control (no-training) condition. It will compare the effects of the three training conditions on knowledge of the intervention, skill in applying the intervention, use of the VCBFC following training, and attitudes about family involvement. “If the web training is effective, it will allow us to rapidly train a large number of mental health clinicians and, hopefully, increase family involvement in mental health care,” said Dr. Niv. “A number of benefits are associated with increased family involvement, including increased patient satisfaction, longer stays in treatment, better medication adherence, and improvements in recovery attitudes, such as hope, knowledge and empowerment.” For more information, contact Noosha Niv, PhD, at


Please note: The clinical project previously described in this issue (My Medications) is no longer active.






There are 15 VA specialized mental health centers of excellence which include 10 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECCs), 4 Mental Health Centers of Excellence, and the National Center for PTSD. The centers share a mission to improve the health and well being of Veterans through cutting-edge science, education, and clinical initiatives. Mental health problems are often multiple complex conditions. Each center addresses a particular mental health disorder, environmental situation or Veteran cohort. To learn more about these centers, go to

Noosha Niv, PhD (Editor), Sonora Hudson, MA (Lead Writer), MIRECC Communications Workgroup (Contributors) and Rachel Warden (Designer)