Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Use of Psychiatric and Alcohol Related Services: The Effect of the 2004–2005 Florida Hurricane Seasons on Veterans
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- Frahm, K.A., Barnett, S.D., Brown, L.M. et al. Community Ment Health J (2013) 49: 636. doi:10.1007/s10597-012-9558-2
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The purpose of this study was to document preliminary findings of the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health service use, and alcohol related health visits among veterans following 2004–2005 Florida hurricane seasons. A retrospective review of the Veterans Health Administration Medical SAS Outpatient Dataset was conducted to identify veterans residing in Florida during the 2004–2005 hurricane seasons with a history of PTSD and/or PTSD and a substance use disorder. It was found that veterans with PTSD residing in counties affected by hurricanes demonstrated an immediate 28 % increase in use of mental health services following hurricane landfall versus veterans residing in non-hurricane affected counties (+28.0 vs. −6.5 %, p = 0.001). Additionally, veterans residing in affected counties were found to use more group psychotherapy treatment sessions overall (30.3 vs. 27.2 %, p = 0.001). Of note, veterans with PTSD experienced a −0.16 per month (p = 0.114) decrease in alcohol related visits following the 2004 hurricane season. These findings provide insight into the mental health needs of veterans with PTSD following a disaster and can inform delivery of services to veterans with PTSD and alcohol related issues in disaster prone areas.