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STEPS study

Sequenced Treatment Effectiveness for Posttraumatic Stress - STEPS study

Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System is conducting a Sequenced Treatment Effectiveness for Posttraumatic Stress (STEPS) study in partnership with the University of Washington.  

Questions and answers about the STEPS study

Sequenced Treatment Effectiveness for Posttraumatic Stress - STEPS

Why is the study being done?

  • The study will determine whether providers should recommend medications or brief counseling first to treat posttraumatic stress.
  • For patients who do not respond to the first treatment, we want to determine what treatment providers should recommend next.

How long would I participate in the project?

Eight (8) months.

What are the treatments?

You would be randomized (like the flip of a coin) to either:

Medications – One of our providers will prescribe you an antidepressant medication.

Brief Counseling – During six weekly sessions (30 minutes each) you will write about a trauma with one of our behavioral health therapists.

If the treatment doesn’t work after 4 months, your care team will switch the treatment.

Will I receive an experimental treatment?

No experimental medications will be prescribed, and no experimental devices or therapies will be involved.

Is it possible that I will receive a placebo (inactive substance)?

No. All STEPS treatments have been proven effective.

What if I don't like the treatment I am randomized to?

  • You may decline the treatment offered to you.
  • You may stop the treatment if it is not working for you.
  • You may receive any other treatment available in our clinic.

STEPS study eligibility

You may be eligible if:

  • Your provider determines you have symptoms of posttraumatic stress

You are not eligible if:

  • Your mental health medication prescriptions have recently changed
  • You are receiving care in a specialty mental health clinic

You will be compensated for your time by receiving:

  • $50 gift card for completing the first survey
  • $50 gift card for completing the second survey
  • $50 gift card for completing the third survey

For more information

Call Irenia Ball with CAVHS at 501-257-1840; or John Fortney, PhD with the University of Washington at 206-658-6955.

Talk to your provider to see if STEPS is right for you.

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