Pilot of a screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment process for symptoms of trauma among primary care patients

Jaedon P Avey, Laurie Moore, Barbara Beach, Vanessa Y Hiratsuka, Lisa G Dirks, Denise A Dillard, Douglas Novins
Family Practice 2019 December 14

BACKGROUND: For populations with high rates of trauma exposure yet low behavioural health service use, identifying and addressing trauma in the primary care setting could improve health outcomes, reduce disability and increase the efficiency of health system resources.

OBJECTIVE: To assess the acceptability and feasibility of a screening, brief intervention and referral to treatment (SBIRT) process for trauma and symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among American Indian and Alaska Native people. We also examine the short-term effects on service utilization and the screening accuracy of the Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen.

METHODS: Cross-sectional pilot in two tribal primary care settings. Surveys and interviews measured acceptability among patients and providers. Health service utilization was used to examine impact. Structured clinical interview and a functional disability measure were used to assess screening accuracy.

RESULTS: Over 90% of patient participants (N = 99) reported the screening time was acceptable, the questions were easily understood, the right staff were involved and the process satisfactory. Ninety-nine percent would recommend the process. Participants screening positive had higher behavioural health utilization in the 3 months after the process than those screening negative. The Primary Care Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Screen was 100% sensitive to detect current PTSD with 51% specificity. Providers and administrators reported satisfaction with the process.

CONCLUSIONS: The SBIRT process shows promise for identifying and addressing trauma in primary care settings. Future research should explore site specific factors, cost analyses and utility compared to other behavioural health screenings.

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