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Mental health experiences and needs among primary care providers treating OEF/OIF veterans: preliminary findings from the Geisinger Veterans Initiative

Mental health experiences and needs among primary care providers treating OEF/OIF veterans: preliminary findings from the Geisinger Veterans Initiative

International Journal of Emergency Mental Health 12(3): 161-170

This study describes the results of the Reaching Rural Veterans Initiative (RRVI) funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Federal Government. The purpose of this project was to address the needs of veterans and their family members in rural communities who were seen by non-VA primary care providers. As part of this project, an assessment of healthcare providers' knowledge and awareness of mental health-related issues and experiences with veterans' healthcare services was conducted. Following this assessment, an education program was developed and implemented at primary care sites within the Geisinger Health System and also made available to other area providers. The survey indicated that Geisinger's primary care providers are currently involved with providing mental health care to area service members and their families. It was estimated that these providers saw about 1,200 Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) patients and 3,600 of their family members in clinics over a 6 month period. A significant number of these persons had mental health problems. About two-thirds (65.4%) of providers reported having a mental health professional onsite and nearly 23% reported that over one-third of their patients have mental health problems. Significant mental health gaps discovered indicated that providers lacked knowledge of PTSD and other combat-related stress disorders, as well as knowledge of VA resources. In addition only 20% of the providers rated their mental health treatment skills as high and only about 8% reported that they had adequate knowledge of current mental health treatment strategies. Based on this needs assessment and the results of the provider intervention, further service improvements are planned.

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Accession: 054329280

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PMID: 21473366

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