Rows of tombstones at Los Angeles National Cemetery near Westwood. Photo by John Schreiber.
Rows of tombstones at Los Angeles National Cemetery near Westwood. Photo by John Schreiber.

Care provided by the U.S. military health system to service members with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression is good in some areas, but lacks in other realms, a study released Thursday by a Santa Monica- based think tank said.

In particular, the military health system performs well in following up with patients after they are discharged from a mental health hospitalization, according to Rand.

The period after a patient is discharged can be a vulnerable time, making follow-up visits critically important for these patients.

The Rand survey also found that the vast majority of patients with a diagnosis of PTSD or depression received at least one psychotherapy visit.

This suggests that military patients who receive such a diagnosis have access to at least some mental health care.

“Regardless of where they serve, where they live or who they are, all members of the U.S. armed forces should receive high-quality mental health care,” said Rand psychologist Kimberly A. Hepner, lead author of the study. “Developing transparent assessments of care that can be routinely reviewed both internally and externally are essential to ensuring excellent care for all service members and their families.”

The study found that there was need for improvement in some areas of PTSD and depression care.

Although most patients received at least one psychotherapy visit, the number and timing of subsequent visits may be inadequate to deliver evidence- based psychotherapy, Hepner said.

The survey reviewed administrative data and medical records of more than 14,500 active-duty service members diagnosed with PTSD and about 30,500 diagnosed with depression from January to June 2012. The review examined whether those service members were receiving evidence-based care in the year after diagnosis.

— Wire reports 

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