Dr. Jeanne Gabriele, staff psychologist at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center has been awarded a Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Centers (MIRECC) pilot grant in the amount of $48,937.00 to study the perceptions returning Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have towards the use of peer support in conjunction with other therapies.
“Cognitive Processing Therapy is a structured “talk therapy” shown to effectively treat PTSD,” said Dr. Gabriele. “Historically, PTSD was perceived as being untreatable. With new treatments this is no longer the case. Fifty to 80 percent of individuals with PTSD who complete Cognitive Processing Therapy show clinically significant improvements and once PTSD symptoms diminish they typically do not remerge."
Despite its benefits, only a small number of Veterans are engaging in this treatment. Studies have shown that peer support and peer mentors can successfully extend provider resources, improve self-management behaviors and improve mental health outcomes. In addition, the provision of peer support by a peer supporter is associated with better physical and mental health outcomes including less depression, improved self-esteem and improved quality of life.
This study is interested in whether peer support could be used to inform Veterans about Cognitive Processing Therapy and other efficacious treatments and provide additional support to Veterans who receive treatment. Several models of peer support have been found to be effective among Veterans including group self-management programs, peer mentors, peer community health workers, telephone-based peer support, and web based peer support.
“In this study, we will determine whether Veterans are interested in peer support, identify features which would be most attractive to Veterans and determine whether peer support could be integrated within a Cognitive Processing Therapy program,” said Dr. Gabriele. “Information obtained from this study would be used to develop a peer support program that meets the interests of Veterans in Mississippi. Peer support would not replace professional support, but act as an adjunct to treatment.”
For more information about this study or Evidence-Based Psychotherapies at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center, contact Dr. Jeanne Gabriele at 601-362-4471x5616.