Background: Military Sexual Trauma (MST) is disturbingly common among women veterans and often results in mental health conditions that significantly impair functioning, most notably posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although MST survivors often prefer complementary and integrative health (CIH) treatments, the effectiveness of CIH treatments remains understudied, which creates barriers to access. In this recent PCORI-funded engagement project, women MST survivors identified more choice and autonomy in healthcare decisions as a primary patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR)/comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) priority. To help MST survivors access preferred treatments for mental health challenges, the project team seeks to identify stakeholder priorities for PCOR/CER that (1) inform effective treatment choices, and (2) measure outcomes that matter most to MST survivors.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: The project team’s solution is to (1) virtually convene MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers to identify the MST treatments and outcomes most important to them, and (2) develop a stakeholder-driven action plan to share the results of the convening in the form of a report and an infographic.
Objectives: The project has four objectives: (1) identify the priorities for comparing existing PTSD interventions that reflect the perspectives of MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers; (2) develop a strategy for engaging MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers in treatment research on MST recovery; (3) define mental health outcomes that measure MST recovery as determined by stakeholders; and (4) create an action plan for sharing the priorities, gaps, questions and outcomes so that future PCOR/CER reflects the needs of MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers.
Activities: The project team will virtually convene stakeholders from their recent PCORI-funded engagement project and expand their existing network by recruiting additional MST survivors and practitioners. To build a new stakeholder cohort of clinician researchers, the project team will recruit clinicians who both treat and research MST and who are working on MST initiatives across the country. They will hold three online convenings during the funding period and invite stakeholders to engage outside of the sessions via a Microsoft Teams channel.
Projected Outcomes and Outputs:
Short-term outcomes during the project period include: identifying the top PCOR/CER priorities of MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers and creating and disseminating the stakeholder-driven action plan for sharing the priorities, gaps, questions, and outcomes.
Medium-term outcomes (0-2 years post-project period) include: continuously disseminating and evaluating the reach of the stakeholder-driven action plan.
Long-term outcomes (3+ years post-project period) include: expanding the project team’s network of MST survivors, practitioners and clinician-researchers and engaging them in PCOR/CER.
Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: The project team will recruit 45 stakeholders to participate: 25 women veteran MST survivors, 10 practitioners, and 10 clinician-researchers. The project team will engage all three cohorts in the project by involving them in the online convening sessions, sending them email communications throughout the year, including them in the Microsoft Teams channel and disseminating the stakeholder-driven action plan to them.
Project Collaborators: This project is a partnership between the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and VetREC (Veteran Research and Education Curation, LLC).