Veteran Wellness Alliance Works to Define High-Quality Care for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Veteran organizations, including Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative, work together to develop a definition of care, along with recommended steps for implementing it.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) — sometimes referred to as invisible wounds — can have significant negative effects on veterans' mental and physical health. Yet, many veterans have difficulty accessing high-quality care for these conditions.
The Veteran Wellness Alliance, which is an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute, is a coalition of veteran peer network and clinical provider organizations, including Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative, a comprehensive rehabilitation program that focuses on assessment and treatment for service members who have served in the U.S. military since September 11, 2001, regardless of discharge status. The program helps service members who are experiencing symptoms of or have a diagnosis of mild to moderate brain injury, or concussions and any co-occurring psychological or behavioral health concerns, including post-traumatic stress. The Alliance and other veteran-serving organizations have a common goal to improve access to high-quality care for invisible wounds, but until recently, there has been no shared definition of high-quality care to guide these improvement efforts.
“The veteran community represents a diverse group of backgrounds, interests and goals with the shared experience of military service,” says Russell Gore, M.D., medical director of Shepherd Center's SHARE Military Initiative and the director of the hospital's Complex Concussion Clinic. “When combat injuries cause invisible wounds, we sometimes struggle to define treatment success due to these differences.”
With this in mind, researchers at RAND Corporation, a global policy think tank, recently conducted a literature review and interviews with Veteran Wellness Alliance partner organizations to identify standards for high-quality care, develop an initial definition, and make recommendations for implementing, refining and disseminating the definition and its associated metrics.
The findings of the research indicate that care should be veteran-centered, providing effective and timely treatment that addresses the unique needs, values and preferences of veterans. The study also addressed the accessibility of care, evidence-based care and outcome monitoring.
“The current effort, in collaboration with the Bush Institute, to define high-quality care and identify common outcome measures will hold all of our treatment programs to the high standards our veteran clients deserve,” Dr. Gore says. “It also established a benchmark for success both for each individual veteran and for our program.”
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Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. Ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top 10 hospitals for rehabilitation and the best in the Southeast, Shepherd Center treats more than 850 inpatients and 7,600 outpatients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.