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Geisinger Study Using EHR Data to Develop PTSD Prediction Tool

November 6, 2015
by Heather Landi
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Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System is conducting a study to identify key predictors of mental health issues in recently deployed National Guard members and Reservists using its electronic health record (EHR), a predictive tool and diagnostic interviews.

According to recent data, National Guard members and Reservists who have recently been deployed return with a higher prevalence of post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, depression and substance abuse compared to active duty soldiers. Many of these service members go back to civilian life without mental health assessments or treatments for these conditions.

A new Geisinger study aims to identify specific generic risk factors to determine which National Guard and Reservists are at a higher risk of developing these post-discharge conditions in an effort to provide better post-trauma treatment and therapy, according to a release from Geisinger Health System.

The study is led by leading PTSD researcher Joseph Boscarino, Ph.D., a senior scientist with the Geisinger Center for Health Research and a U.S. Army combat veteran, with assistance from Geisinger doctors and researchers, including Thomas Urosevich, a recently deployed U.S. Army Reserve Officer.

The study will leverage Geisinger’s highly developed HER along with in-depth, diagnostic interviews.

According to a release, the study is a first-of-its-kind looking at mental health and substance abuse risk factors in the National Guard and Reservists seen in non-Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.

“Generally we've found that individuals with 'at risk' genes are more likely to develop PTSD,  depression and substance abuse especially when associated with a higher exposure to traumatic events or greater exposure to childhood adversity," Boscarino said.

Boscarino leads a national team, including investigators at Kent State and Tulane universities, that has developed a highly successful tool for predicting PTSD following traumatic incidents.

"Until now, there hasn't been an easy-to-use tool to help clinicians rapidly identify PTSD in patients in routine practice or after a traumatic event," Boscarino said. "We think we now have a basic tool that can quickly identify PTSD cases and facilitate appropriate therapy. I wish my generation of warfighters had these tools available when we returned from Vietnam. Because we didn't, that is why I have been pursuing this research for the past 35 years."   

The study is funded through a Community Partners in Mental Health Research Award, the Department of Defense, Defense Health Program and the Psychological Health/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program.

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