This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a mental illness that can occur after a person goes through a traumatic event, such as war, physical violence, or a disaster. PTSD is the most common mental illness in veterans returning from active duty. People with PTSD have a higher risk of long-term physical illness, problems in social situations, and even death compared to people without PTSD.
Along with counseling, doctors choose first-line medicines to treat symptoms of PTSD. First-line medicines are those medicines known to work best for most people. However, first-line medicines don’t work for all patients with PTSD. Doctors and patients want to learn about second-line medicines they can use along with first-line medicines to improve symptoms. Studies have not looked at how well second-line medicines treat symptoms of PTSD. These medicines may be approved to treat conditions other than PTSD, and some have side effects such as weight gain. This study aims to compare the risks and benefits of second-line medicines used to treat the symptoms of PTSD.
Who can this research help?
Patients with PTSD and their doctors can use findings from the study when making choices about treatment for PTSD symptoms.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is reviewing the medical records of patients with PTSD who receive care from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA. The study focuses on patients who take one or more of several specific types of second-line medicines. The team is comparing how the different medicines affect patients’ mental and physical health. The team is also comparing risks and benefits of each medicine in specific groups, such as women, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and patients age 65 and older.
A group of patients, clinicians, and policy makers meet regularly with the research team to provide input on the study. The team is also working with VA mental health groups.
Research methods at a glance
- John Gallagher, BA, San Francisco County Veterans Services
- Joseph Bellamy, BA, Santa Rosa VA Medical Center
- Ana-Marie Urbieta, BA, San Francisco VA Medical Center
Other Stakeholder Partners
- Nancy Bernardy, PhD, PTSD Mentoring Program Director and Associate Director for Clinical Networking National Center for PTSD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth
- Ilse Wiechers, MD, Associate Director, Northeast Program Evaluation Center, VA Office of Mental Health Operations, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Yale University