PCORI Answers Critical Questions
Evidence gaps can make it difficult to know which approaches to care will work best given a patient’s specific needs. PCORI funds studies that seek to help veterans, their families, healthcare providers, and others answer questions they face when making care choices, such as:
Physician: I know lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among veterans. But I want to balance the need for regular lung cancer screening by CT scan versus ordering unnecessary tests for the veterans I treat. What’s the latest research on this?
VA Clinician: One of my patients suffers from chronic pain but is concerned about the risks of relying on opioids. What strategies would offer the best options to help her manage her pain while reducing the risks she might face from long-term opioid use?
Patient: I suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but my current treatments don’t seem to be helping with all my symptoms. Are there different medications or other treatments that might work better for me?
Veterans Health Study Spotlights
Through the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards, veterans and their families participated in driving research on health issues that mattered to them, ranging from posttraumatic stress disorder to familial interpersonal strain. PCORI stakeholders listened to veterans and their families, built the tools to support their engagement, and developed a network to sustain this support.
People who have a traumatic brain injury, or TBI, often have sleep apnea, which can make TBI symptoms worse and recovery difficult. In this study, the research team is comparing different ways of diagnosing sleep apnea in patients being treated for TBI. The project uses two types of diagnostic tools—portable equipment used at the patient’s bedside and equipment monitored by a technician while the patient sleeps in a lab. The team is trying to determine how to improve screening of patients at high risk for apnea to improve TBI care outcomes.
Posttraumatic stress disorder is the most common mental illness among veterans. People with PTSD have a higher risk of long-term physical illness, problems in social situations, and even death compared to those without PTSD. PCORI-funded researchers in California are reviewing the medical records of veterans with PTSD to gauge the benefits and risks of “second-line” medicines for PTSD—those that clinicians prescribe when drugs known to work best for most people are not effective.