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Newsletter | Winter 2024 Article 7 | 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

Drs. Darius Dawson, Anthony Ecker, Ms. Ashley Helm, and Drs. Natalie Hundt, and Terri Fletcher, coauthored an article about delivery of exposure and response prevention among Veterans with obsessive-compulsive disorder in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services Research (first author: A. G. Hertz). The team completed a retrospective review of electronic medical records to explore the rates of delivery of exposure and response prevention (ERP) and other evidence-based treatments to Veterans with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They studied the rates of ERP delivery in a national sample of 554 Veterans newly diagnosed with OCD in the Veterans Health Administration between 2016 and 2017. Results showed that only 4% of Veterans (n = 22) received any ERP treatment; and, of those, 16 Veterans received "true ERP." Veterans who received any ERP were younger than those who did not. ERP was primarily delivered by psychologists in urban facilities along the East and West coasts of the USA. The findings from this study emphasize the need to train more providers to effectively deliver ERP in addition to providing telehealth services to increase access to care for Veterans in rural areas.

Dr. Mary Bollinger coauthored an article on how geography, rurality, and community distress relates to deaths due to suicide, alcohol-use, and drug-use among Colorado Veterans in Injury Epidemiology (First Author: T. L. Spark). The authors explored community-level relationships in Colorado Veterans and compared suicide, alcohol-, and drug-related death rates between the Colorado adult population and Veterans. Results showed that 6.4% of Colorado Veteran deaths (n = 6948) were identified as being related to suicide, alcohol, or drugs. Compared to rates in the general population of Colorado adults, Veterans had 1.8 times higher rates of such deaths overall (2.1 times higher for suicide, 1.8 times higher for alcohol-related, 1.3 times higher for drug-related). The authors concluded that upstream prevention efforts, such as community-based interventions targeting alcohol-use and community economic distress, are warranted. More research is also needed to understand how community distress and other social determinants of health impact the community burden of suicide, alcohol-related, and drug-related mortality.

Dr. Joseph (Jay) Boffa coauthored an article about exploring the relationship between moral injury and PTSD symptoms in suicide attempt survivors in Cognitive Therapy and Research (First Author: S. J. Woller). While research has suggested that some individuals report PTSD symptoms following a suicide attempt (SA), the authors were interested in whether an individual’s own SA should be recognized as a criterion event for PTSD symptoms. They were also interested in expanding their understanding of the relationship between PTSD and potentially morally injurious events (PMIE) among SA survivors. Participants (N = 152) reporting a lifetime SA were recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to complete self-report measures of PTSD symptoms and PMIE specific to their SA, as well as self-report measures of shame, and guilt. Descriptive statistics and regressions were used to examine the study aims. Levels of PTSD symptoms and PMIE secondary to a SA were comparable with previous samples. Perceptions of one’s SA as a PMIE were statistically significantly associated with global PTSD symptoms, while PTSD intrusion symptoms were uniquely associated with perceptions of one’s SA as a PMIE. The results from this study suggest that a SA is a potentially traumatic event that could lead to symptoms of PTSD and perceptions of one’s SA as a PMIE.

Last updated: June 13, 2024