Traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are highly prevalent and lead to increases in psychiatric and cardiovascular disease. Racial and ethnic minority people residing in sociocultural environments entrenched in community violence or experiencing assault are at especially high risk of PTSD. However, many people with PTSD are not diagnosed or treated. Current practices for identifying PTSD are subject to bias because diagnosis depends on clinician- or patient-initiated discussion of trauma-related symptoms, and stigma, knowledge, time, and access to resources are often barriers to these discussions. System-level solutions are needed to increase diagnosis and treatment of PTSD. Systematic screening protocols can help address bias in who is screened. A keystone to screening for PTSD could be to screen patients when they are at clinic visits. While no formal recommendation exists for PTSD screening, clinics who serve patients at a high risk for PTSD, for example, the Veterans Affairs, have implemented screening at clinic visits. Use of patient portals may provide another promising strategy to address barriers to PTSD screening. In our previous work, we used a population health approach to screen for and assess depression symptoms, employing the patient portal as a tool to reach out to patients. We found that it resulted in a higher screening rate and identified more patients with moderate-severe depression. After identifying patients with PTSD, the next necessary step is to provide evidence-based treatments, like integrated primary-care behavioral health (PCBH). Integrated primary care-behavioral health (PCBH) is a model of care in which the behavioral health and primary care teams are collocated with the primary care clinic and work together to address the biopsychosocial factors that are affecting a patient’s health. PCBH has been found to be less stigmatizing for patients with PTSD and models of care that are proactive and provide telephonic care management have been found to increase treatment engagement for PTSD. Thus, coupling screening for PTSD with a PCBH model may be a highly effective strategy to improving PTSD outcomes.
Our goal is to implement and evaluate a novel strategy for screening and management of PTSD in a primary care setting with a high prevalence of trauma, specifically the South Side of Chicago. In partnership with Chicago Family Health Center, an FQHC with five clinical sites and PCBH, we aim to 1) Implement a system-level screening and management strategy for PTSD. We will implement a process of clinic visit and population health screening for PTSD leveraging the patient portal with linkage to care within a PCBH model and 2) Evaluate a system-level screening and management strategy for PTSD. With these aims, this grant will lead to increased understanding of the utility and feasibility of screening and managing PTSD in an FQHC that serves a predominantly racial/ethnic minority population with high rates of trauma exposure. If proven effective, we will evaluate this model of care in a multi-center trial of FQHCs.