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Newsletter | Summer 2023 Article 9 | South Central MIRECC

Publication Highlights

Articles and books authored by our affiliates enable us to share research and knowledge about mental health treatment with our Veteran, caregiver, provider and research communities.

Highlighted Articles

Dr. Anthony Ecker (first author), Giselle Day, Dr. Amber Amspoker, Dr. Jennifer Bryan, Dr. Stephanie Day, Miryam Wassef, Dr. Kendra Weaver, and Dr. Jan Lindsay published a paper on the use of group-based implementation facilitation for video telemental health in the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science. The team developed group facilitation to increase the reach of VA Video Connect (VVC) implementation through implementation facilitation. Group facilitation combined training in technical and policy elements of VVC with implementation facilitation with groups of providers from clinic units. This approach was designed to rapidly disseminate the necessary knowledge to conduct VVC combined with collaborative problem solving as a team to improve the ability of the clinical team to sustain VVC. Participants (N = 26) reported being highly satisfied with the training and reported a high degree of confidence in their ability to use VVC. Based on evaluation data and interview feedback, providers and clinic leaders were satisfied with group facilitation. Findings suggest that group facilitation may be a helpful tool in rapidly training clinical teams to implement and sustain video telemental health.

Drs. Mark Kunik and Amber Amspoker coauthored an article on an examination of positive and negative dementia caregiving experiences (first author: Dr. Srijana Shrestha) in the Clinical Gerontologist. The researchers examined associations among three measures of caregiver experiences (i.e., positive aspects of caring, caregiver burden, and mutuality) in 228 dyads involving persons with dementia (PWD) and their informal caregivers. Enabling characteristics (e.g., race/ethnicity, caregiver education and employment and PWD education) and most predisposing characteristics (e.g., caregiver age, PWD age, relationship type) were not associated with any caregiving experience measures. Need characteristics (e.g., levels of memory and functional impairment, behavioral problems, depression, pleasant events) were associated with the caregiving experience. Authors recommend that giving particular attention to depression and interventions that improve depressive symptoms may increase positive aspects of caring and mutuality and reduce caregiver burden.

Dr. Eva Woodward coauthored an article on an economic analyses of behavioral health intervention implementation in stakeholder engagement (first author: Dr. Rebecca Raciborski) in Frontiers in Psychiatry. The authors discussed their perspective on how the integration of stakeholder engagement with existing economic analysis methods could improve decision-making about implementation of behavioral health interventions. Existing guidelines for conducting economic analyses like cost-effectiveness analyses and budget impact analyses are not well-suited to the complexity of the behavioral healthcare pathway and its many stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement, when used effectively with recent innovations in economic analysis, advance more equitable access to interventions for individuals living with behavioral health conditions.

Drs. Amanda Raines and Darius Dawson coauthored an article with student Ava K. Fergerson (first author) on differences in anxiety sensitivity among Black and White Veterans in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. Their study examined racial differences in anxiety sensitivity and anxiety sensitivity facets between Black and White Veterans (N = 285; 58% Black, 77% Male; Mage = 43.51, SD = 11.87) presenting to a PTSD specialty clinic at a (VA). Veterans completed a diagnostic interview and self-report questionnaires to assist with diagnostic clarification and treatment planning. Results revealed a significant difference in anxiety sensitivity total scores between Black (M = 44.5, SD = 17.2) and White Veterans (M = 36.1, SD = 17.7), such that Black Veterans showed higher levels. When examining anxiety sensitivity subfacets, Black Veterans also showed elevated levels of physical (M = 14.4, SD = 6.6) and cognitive concerns (M = 15.2, SD = 6.5) compared to White Veterans (M = 9.8, SD = 6.2; M = 11.7, SD = 6.6, respectively). Results indicate that anxiety sensitivity is a relevant risk factor among Black Veterans. Future studies should examine the extent to which anxiety sensitivity is modifiable in such populations.

Last updated: July 25, 2023