Enhancing Social Support May Improve Cognitive Processing Therapy Outcomes in Telemedicine for PTSD
As we work to sustain and tailor our mental health services during the era of COVID-19 and think ahead to future clinical needs, clinicians are increasingly transitioning their care to telehealth modalities. The good news for health care providers is that telehealth-based delivery of gold-standard posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT; Resick et al., 2017) has been shown to be no less effective than in-person delivery of care (Morland et al., 2014, 2015). Although CPT delivered remotely appears to be noninferior to in-person care, providers may be curious about which characteristics of individuals seeking to participate in CPT via telehealth might improve their outcomes. Malleable characteristics, such as the amount of social support an individual perceives they have, are of special interest if their enhancement might direct providers to specific treatment plans or targets. Although some research has shown social support can encourage greater reductions in PTSD symptoms (Price et al., 2018), individuals living in rural areas might have important differences that could change how social support benefits treatment. Therefore, we set out to evaluate the degree to which pre-existing perceived social support could enhance the effects of CPT for rural American military veterans participating in a pragmatic randomized effectiveness trial of telehealth-based collaborative care for PTSD (Fortney et al., 2015).