NCCOSC Psychological Health Experts Provide Support to Improve Clinical Care

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Story Number: NNS140815-27Release Date: 8/15/2014 8:45:00 PM

By Regena Kowitz, NCCOSC Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Staff from the Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control (NCCOSC) trained mental health providers from the Navy's Overcoming Adversity and Stress Injury Support (OASIS) Program Aug. 14 in the use of a psychological survey for assessing and diagnosing PTSD.

NCCOSC instructed providers in using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), a 30-item structured interview used to diagnose PTSD and assess symptom severity and help improve patient care. The scale was designed to be administered by clinicians or paraprofessionals, such as specially trained hospital corpsmen designated as behavioral health technicians.

"CAPS is the gold standard in PTSD assessment," said Capt. Scott Johnston, NCCOSC director. "This was a great opportunity to collaborate with OASIS and provide the information and tools they need to standardize how they assess patients and measure outcomes, ensuring that patients are receiving the care that's right for them. It's wonderful that OASIS is getting on the cutting-edge about gathering these kinds of measures, which will ultimately improve how we care for our service members with PTSD and support psychological force readiness."

OASIS, the Navy's only residential care program, is a 10-week intensive program to treat combat-related PTSD in active duty service members who have not improved with outpatient treatment. The program provides an integrative approach to treatment that includes alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation and art therapy along with traditional psychotherapy such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Every patient receives an individualized treatment plan to meet their specific needs.

"The providers at OASIS invest a lot of time in treating their patients and helping them get well over a 10-week period so implementing CAPS, which is a very time-intensive assessment, to get an in-depth understanding of a patient's PTSD symptoms and severity only makes sense," said Dr. Jennifer Webb-Murphy, department head for NCCOSC Research Facilitation and a clinical psychologist, who led the training in administering the CAPS.

Hospitalman Latoya Joseph, a behavioral health technician from OASIS, also attended the training. Joseph assists patients with their daily activities while they're part of the program and helps assess their behaviors.

"The CAPS survey is important so that we can make sure patients are getting the right treatment and that they're supposed to be in the OASIS Program," says Joseph.

"At OASIS, we know our patients are improving based on what they are telling us, but some of the other scales that we are using don't reflect that improvement," said Dr. Lily Tran, a provider at OASIS and former active duty Navy clinical psychologist. "By standardizing our scales, our providers will be able to assess our patients more consistently. We can also make sure that what we are doing is working so that we can continue to do so and expand the program to help more people get well and improve their functioning."

NCCOSC is Navy Medicine's lead in promoting psychological resilience and investigating best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. The Research Facilitation Department includes subject-matter experts in clinical and research psychology who work to ensure that mental health providers actively treating service members with PTSD and other stress injuries have the most up-to-date science-based information to implement into their practice.

Providing OASIS with CAPS training is just one of many ways in which NCCOSC supports clinicians to effectively treat combat- and operational-related stress disorders. NCCOSC supports the psychological health and resilience of Sailors and Marines throughout the fleet through psychological health research, program development and anti-stigma initiatives with the ultimate goal of improving mission readiness.

For more news from Naval Center for Combat & Operational Stress Control , visit www.navy.mil/local/nccosc/.

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