Veterans Telemedicine Studies (VTOPS & DOD)

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is considered a major public health problem in the U.S. due to its high prevalence and high rates of disability associated with the disorder. For thousands of veterans, PTSD is a chronic disorder, resulting directly from military service that causes substantial psychological suffering and social disability. Barriers to PTSD care include poor access, mistrust, and lack of benefit from traditional treatments. While recently developed evidenced based treatments like cognitive processing therapy (CPT) are very effective, these treatments are not widely available, as a large proportion of veterans live in rural communities and have poor access to specialized mental health care.

The VA hospital system currently supports sophisticated telemedicine technology that can provide CPT to veterans in their home communities. The DOD project aims to assess the quality of CPT provided via telemedicine and its impact on outcomes by comparing PTSD outcomes for veterans receiving CPT via telemedicine vs. in-person care.

The patient-therapist relationship is central in establishing an effective therapeutic relationship and is strongly influenced by communication. Through a randomized clinical trial of 254 patients receiving cognitive processing therapy either via telemedicine or by in-person care, the VTOPS project compares provider-patient communication during telemedicine consultations vs. in-person consultations.

HSRC serves as the data processing and management center for both the VTOPS and DOD studies. Data collected will enable the VA system to improve the quality and accessibility of health care to eligible veterans with PTSD, regardless of their place of residence.

For more information visit: or contact Dr. Andrew Sarkin at:



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