Implementing Collaborative Primary Care for Depression and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Design and Sample for a Randomized Trial in the U.S. Military Health System

Published in: Contemporary Clinical Trials, v. 39, no. 2, Nov. 2014, p. 310-319

Posted on RAND.org on October 30, 2014

by Charles C. Engel, Robert M. Bray, Lisa H. Jaycox, Michael C. Freed, Douglas F. Zatzick, Marian E. Lane, Donald Brambilla, Kristine Rae Olmsted, Russ Vandermaas-Peeler, Brett T. Litz, Terri Tanielian, Bradley E. Belsher, Daniel P. Evatt, Laura A. Novak, Jurgen Unutzer, Wayne J. Katon

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BACKGROUND: War-related trauma, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and suicide are common in US military members. Often, those affected do not seek treatment due to stigma and barriers to care. When care is sought, it often fails to meet quality standards. A randomized trial is assessing whether collaborative primary care improves quality and outcomes of PTSD and depression care in the US military health system. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to describe the design and sample for a randomized effectiveness trial of collaborative care for PTSD and depression in military members attending primary care. METHODS: The STEPS-UP Trial (STepped Enhancement of PTSD Services Using Primary Care) is a 6 installation (18 clinic) randomized effectiveness trial in the US military health system. Study rationale, design, enrollment and sample characteristics are summarized. FINDINGS: Military members attending primary care with suspected PTSD, depression or both were referred to care management and were recruited for the trial (2592) and 1041 gave permission to contact for research participation. Of those, 666 (64%) met eligibility criteria, completed baseline assessments, and were randomized to 12 months of usual collaborative primary care versus STEPS-UP collaborative care. Implementation was locally managed for usual collaborative care and centrally managed for STEPS-UP. Research reassessments occurred at 3-, 6-, and 12-months. Baseline characteristics were similar across the two intervention groups. CONCLUSIONS: STEPS-UP will be the first large scale randomized effectiveness trial completed in the US military health system, assessing how an implementation model affects collaborative care impact on mental health outcomes. It promises lessons for health system change.

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