Rocky Mountain MIRECC - Joe Huggins MSW MSCIS - MIRECC / CoE
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Rocky Mountain MIRECC - Joe Huggins MSW MSCIS

Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention

Updated: 2 July 2019

Biography

Joe Huggins MSW MSCIS
HugginsTitle: Program Analyst
National MIRECC Web Coordinator
Contact information:
720-723-6487
joe.huggins@va.gov
After graduating from the University of Washington with his MSW, Joe explored social work through many of the various career paths available. This included stints in child protection services, adolescent substance abuse, chronic mentally ill day treatment services and medical social work. With a special interest in rural and cross-cultural social work Joe worked on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation, the central and international districts in Seattle and Montezuma County in southwest Colorado.
While in Montezuma County, he successfully wrote and managed the Healthy Communities 2010 grant from the Colorado Trust. He helped start the Pinõn Project, Montezuma County Partners (a youth mentorship program) and the first domestic violence group for batterers on the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation. Joe also worked for the Colorado Area Health Education center at the University of Colorado. While on faculty at the university he taught website design, database classes amongst others. He was named faculty of the year in 2005 for the Clinical Science program.
Joe became interested in technology, especially as it could be used to bring people together and manage resources. His specialties include the creation and management of databases and web design and development. Of particular interest is the use of databases to create dynamic websites. Recently, he has developed a number of mobile websites. Joe is tremendously excited about a new project called Suicide Prevention for Rural Veterans: A Community Based Approach.

Some questions to get to know Joe:

What made me choose Rocky Mountain MIRECC?

The mission and the people. I have the opportunity to work with great people doing great work for great people.

If you weren’t with the MIRECC, you’d be:

Working as a horticulturalist at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Our pets:

There is Raja the mighty Great Dane and Rusty the Ridgeback and he is the old feller.

DRAFT_Lifetime_TBIs

Firearm-Locking-Devices

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Recent Publications

Bahraini NH, Gutierrez PM, Harwood JEF, Huggins JA, Hedegaard H, Chase M, Brenner LA. (2012). The Colorado Violent Death Reporting System (COVDRS): Validity and Utility of the Veteran Status Variable. Public Health Rep., May/Jun;127(3):304-309.
mountainsObjective. Using the Veterans Affairs Beneficiary Identification Record Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) as the criterion database, we evaluated the sensitivity and specificity of the death certificate information in the Colorado Violent Death Reporting System (COVDRS) to determine Veteran status for those who died by suicide. Methods. The study sample consisted of 3,820 individuals aged 18 years and older who died by suicide in Colorado from January 1, 2004, through December 31, 2008. To determine agreement on Veteran status, COVDRS data were submitted to the Veterans Benefits Administration for linkage to the BIRLS using Social Security numbers. Results. Sensitivity and specificity of the Veteran status information on the death certificate were 93.1% (95% confidence interval [CI] 90.7, 95.2) and 91.7% (95% CI 90.5, 92.8), respectively. The overall agreement between the death certificate and the BIRLS on Veteran status was very good (kappa 5 0.76; 95% CI 0.74, 0.79). Conclusions. This study of 3,820 suicide deaths in Colorado demonstrated a high level of agreement between the COVDRS Veteran status variable and the BIRLS. Such findings offer support for using the COVDRS in studying factors associated with suicide in the Veteran population.
Keywords: Suicide Prevention
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Brenner, L.A., Breshears, R.E., Betthauser, L.M., Bellon, K. K., Holman, E., Harwood, J. E., Silverman, M. M., Huggins, J. & Nagamoto, H. T. (2011). Implementation of a suicide nomenclature within two VA healthcare settings. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.
Implementation of a Suicide Nomenclature within Two VA Healthcare Settings Those who work in the field of Veteran’s care, as well as educators, researchers, and professionals providing direct mental health services agree that learning more about and preventing suicide represents a highly critical goal. Yet, up to now, researchers and mental health professionals lacked a shared language for defining suicidal behavior. This study discusses implementation of the Center for Disease Controls’ Self-Directed Violence Classification System (SDVCS) and an accompanying Clinical Tool (CT) at two VA healthcare facilities (in Denver and Grand Junction, CO). Results of this study show that implementing a more unified language is possible, while at the same time highlights some of the challenges and barriers to adoption of this system. This study provides important information regarding implementation of the SDVCS throughout the VA system.
Keywords: Suicide Prevention
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mountainsBrenner, L. A., Betthauser, L.M., Homaifar, B. Y., Villarreal, E., Harwood, J. E., Staves, P. J., & Huggins, J. A. (2011). Posttraumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and suicide attempt history among Veterans receiving mental health services. Suicide & Life Threatening Behavior, 41, 416-423.
History of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been found to increase risk of suicidal behavior. The association between suicide attempt history among veterans with PTSD and/or TBI was explored. Cases (N = 81) and 2:1 matched controls (N = 160) were randomly selected from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center clinical database. PTSD history was associated with an increased risk for a suicide attempt (OR = 2.8; 95% CI: 1.5, 5.1). This increased risk was present for those with and without a history of TBI. Results support incorporating PTSD history when assessing suicide risk among veterans with and without TBI.
Keywords: Suicide Prevention, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
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Brenner, L.A., Breshears, R.E., Betthauser, L.M., Bellon, K. K., Holman, E., Harwood, J. E., Silverman, M. M., Huggins, J. & Nagamoto, H. T. (2011). Implementation of a suicide nomenclature within two VA healthcare settings. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.
Implementation of a Suicide Nomenclature within Two VA Healthcare Settings Those who work in the field of Veteran’s care, as well as educators, researchers, and professionals providing direct mental health services agree that learning more about and preventing suicide represents a highly critical goal. Yet, up to now, researchers and mental health professionals lacked a shared language for defining suicidal behavior. This study discusses implementation of the Center for Disease Controls’ Self-Directed Violence Classification System (SDVCS) and an accompanying Clinical Tool (CT) at two VA healthcare facilities (in Denver and Grand Junction, CO). Results of this study show that implementing a more unified language is possible, while at the same time highlights some of the challenges and barriers to adoption of this system. This study provides important information regarding implementation of the SDVCS throughout the VA system.
Keywords: Suicide Prevention
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Brenner LA, Homaifar BY, Olson-Madden JH, Nagamoto HT, Huggins J, Schneider AL, Forster JE, Matarazzo B, Corrigan JD. (2013). Prevalence and screening of traumatic brain injury among veterans seeking mental health services. J Head Trauma Rehabil. Jan-Feb;28
OBJECTIVES: To assess the prevalence of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among Veterans seeking mental health services using a 4-item tool, the Traumatic Brain Injury-4 (TBI-4), and to establish the classification accuracy of the TBI-4 using the Ohio State University TBI-Identification Method as the criterion standard. STUDY DESIGN: Archival and observational data collected from individuals seeking care at a Mountain State VA Medical Center. PARTICIPANTS: The sample for the archival study was 1810. Three hundred sixteen Veterans completed observational study measures. MAIN MEASURES: For the archival study, TBI-4 and demographic data extracted from electronic medical records. For the observational study, the Ohio State University TBI-Identification Method and a demographic questionnaire were used. TBI-4 data were also obtained from electronic medical records. RESULTS: The prevalence of probable TBI among those seeking VA MH treatment was 45%. Sensitivity and specificity of the TBI-4 were 0.74 and 0.56, respectively. Veterans with all levels of TBI severity sought care within this VA mental health setting. CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of TBI in this VA mental health treatment population was higher than expected. Additional research is required to assess the clinical utility of screening for TBI among this population of Veterans.
Keywords: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
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Olson-Madden J, Forster JE, Huggins J, Schneider A. (2012). Psychiatric Diagnoses, Mental Health Utilization, High-Risk Behaviors, and Self-Directed Violence Among Veterans With Comorbid History of Traumatic Brain Injury and Substance Use Disorders. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. Volume 27(5), September/October 2012, p 370–378
mountainsObjectives: To describe various characteristics of veterans with co-occurring histories of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and substance use disorder (SUD) for purposes of hypothesis generation. Study Design: Archival data collected over a period of 4 years. Participants: Sixty-five veterans across eras of service with confirmed histories of TBI and SUD. Methods: Demographic and TBI information were obtained from an archival clinical database. Electronic medical records were reviewed for mental health utilization, psychiatric diagnoses, self-directed violence, and risk-taking behaviors. Results: In addition to a SUD, veterans were reported to have an average of 3 additional psychiatric diagnoses and a median of 3 TBIs per person. All utilized various mental health services in addition to substance use treatment. Individuals were found to have engaged in a variety of risky behaviors. There were significant associations between suicidal ideation and assaultive behaviors, as well as between suicide attempt and impulsivity. Conclusions: This study describes a sample of veterans with co-occurring histories of TBI, SUD, risk-taking behaviors, and self-directed violence. More research is needed to examine these complex interrelationships and to identify specific risk factors for intervention/prevention strategies.
Keywords: Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Substance Use Disorders (SUD)
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Olson-Madden JH, Homaifar BY, Hostetter T, Matarazzo BB, Huggins J, Forster JE, Schneider AL, Nagamoto HT, Corrigan JD, Brenner LA. Validating the Traumatic Brain Injury-4 (TBI-4) Screening Measure for Veterans Seeking Mental Health Treatment with Psychiatric Inpatient and Outpatient Service Utilization Data. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2014 Jan 27.
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether a positive screen on the Traumatic Brain Injury-4 (TBI-4) can identify Veterans who utilize more inpatient and outpatient mental health services. Two criteria to identify a positive screen were evaluated. DESIGN: Validation cohort. SETTING: Veterans Affairs Medical Center. PARTICIPANTS: Individual seeking Veterans Health Administration mental health services (N=1,493). INTERVENTIONS: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: One year of inpatient and outpatient mental health utilization data following the TBI-4 screen date. RESULTS: In the year post-mental health intake, those who answered positively to any of the four TBI-4 screening questions (Criterion 1) or Question 2 (Criterion 2; ever being "knocked out") had significantly more psychiatric hospitalizations compared to those who met neither criterion. Those who were positive by Criterion 2 also had significantly fewer outpatient mental health contacts. CONCLUSIONS: Veterans screening positive for history of TBI on the TBI-4 had more hospital stays in the year post-mental health intake. Those who reported having been "knocked out", also had fewer outpatient mental health visits. These findings may suggest an overall relationship in this population between greater needs for mental health care and likelihood of prior injury. For those with a history of loss of consciousness, the reduced use of outpatient care may reflect greater problems engaging in treatment or with preventive aspects of the healthcare system, when they are not in crisis. Using a screener such as the TBI-4 could facilitate identification of Veterans who might benefit from targeted and intensive outpatient interventions to avoid frequent inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. Copyright © 2014 American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PubMed Keywords: (CDW), (CPT), (TBI), (TBI-4), (TBI-ID), (VAMC), (VHA), Corporate Data Warehouse, Current Procedural Terminology, Traumatic Brian Injury-Identification, Traumatic brain injury, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Veterans Health Administration, hospitalization, mental health, the Traumatic Brain Injury-4, traumatic brain injury, utilization
 
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