Engagement in Psychotherapy Improves Outcomes for Veterans


This article explores the impact of psychotherapy on veterans with depression and anxiety.


The longstanding partnership between the Birmingham Veterans Affairs Medical Center (BVAMC) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing inspired the establishment of one of the country's first psychiatric–mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) residencies and subsequent formation of a Resident Continuity Clinic (RCC). Within the RCC, PMHNP residents deliver evidence-based care that is informed by measurement-based care (MBC) to improve patient outcomes and reduce time to recovery. Determined by the BVAMC Institutional Review Board to be a quality improvement project, PMHNP residents administered the Patient Stress Questionnaire (PSQ), a MBC tool that uses four independently validated screening tools to measure the behavioral health symptoms of depression, anxiety, trauma, and alcohol use. Additional clinical variables of interest included patient use of illicit substances, participation in psychotherapy, and use of psychotropic medications. PSQ scores were reviewed retrospectively via descriptive statistics and nonparametric tests. Analysis demonstrated statistically significant improvements in depression and anxiety. Data also revealed that patients engaged in psychotherapy demonstrated greater improvements on all PSQ screening tools compared to patients not involved in psychotherapy. The results reinforce the value of MBC in psychiatric care and highlight the importance of engaging Veterans in psychotherapy to improve outcomes.

Full Reference

Carpenter, J. W., Nicholson, W. C., Lee, M. J., Richardson, J. W., McGuinness, T. M., 2019. Engagement in Psychotherapy Improves Outcomes for Veterans. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20181220-01.