Veterans who are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) endure many difficulties throughout daily life. Some find making it to the in-person therapy sessions difficult due to the conditions limitations. New research is showing that treatment for PTSD via telemedicine videoconferencing is no less effective than in-person therapy. “The best treatment for PTSD, with the most empirical support, can be delivered at no loss of effectiveness, directly into a veteran’s home, rather than having the veteran come into clinic,” lead study author Ron Acierno told Reuters Health by email.
“We can now save the travel time and bring the treatment right to them” if a veteran lives too far away to attend 12 to 15 weekly sessions, can’t take off work or feels stigmatized coming into the clinic, said Acierno, a psychologist and researcher with the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston, South Carolina. The study included 132 veterans, 127 of them had been diagnosed with PTSD.
Some of the respondents were given a more traditional treatment in person, while others were given a session at home through a videoconference. After the trial ended the research showed similar improvements in the PTSD symptom severity. “Our effects with PTSD were just as good in person vs. home based telehealth,” Acierno said, “however, people doing the treatment via home-based telehealth did report more difficulty.”
Peter Kane, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin in Madison said the study was able to show that, at least in the VA health system, effective PTSD treatments can be successfully delivered in multiple ways.
“Patients with PTSD could be treated effectively in the clinic or by using home based telehealth,” Kane said. The findings are especially important given the common barriers that make it harder for those who need these services to access them, he noted. The progress in the field of telemedicine is astounding and as it grows, more people will be able to enjoy the benefits of telemedicine”.