The 'dual burden' of (a) loss of a fellow service member in the context of (b) experiencing repeated extreme life threat is unique to military combat personnel and a core characteristic of combat-related Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), a disorder as prevalent as Post-traumatic stress disorder and associated with functional impairment, disability, and suicidality. Effective treatments for depression and PTSD have proven less than adequate in treating PGD when each is offered in isolation; and simply combining these 12-16 week treatment regimens into a 24-36 week treatments is not a viable approach, particularly with a population predisposed to avoiding extended mental health care. The proposed project addresses the need for a Veteran/ military specific treatment of PGD, and uses technology to deliver this treatment in a format that is far more likely to be accepted by military personnel and Veterans. This study will impact clinical practice by providing the first evidence for effective treatment PGD in Veterans.
The purpose of this study is to determine whether a scientifically validated treatment for PTSD called Prolonged Exposure (PE) can be delivered effectively to Veterans with Military Sexual Trauma (MST) related PTSD using videoconferencing technology, which allows a therapist and patient who are not in the same room as one another to communicate. We are interested in learning if this form of mental health service delivery is an acceptable alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy delivered with the therapist in the same room as the patient. This study is being conducted at the Charleston VA Medical Center, surrounding Community-Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs), and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). It will involve approximately 125 female participants.