By the Numbers

By the Numbers

$138 million

The amount that would be saved in "social costs" (lost productivity, mental health treatment, and suicides) over a two year period following "implementation of evidence-based treatments" for PTSD and depression, according to a recent journal article -- Challenges and Successes in Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments for Posttraumatic Stress: Lessons Learned From Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD. According to the article, which appeared in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, that figure represents a reduction of roughly 15% in the total social costs of PTSD and depression over a two-year period in veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, calculated by health economists at  approximately $950 million.

This article, which is freely available in full text, is well worth your time. From the abstract:

Despite the existence of highly effective treatments like PE, the majority of individuals with PTSD receive treatments of unknown efficacy. Thus, it is crucial to identify the barriers and challenges that must be addressed in order to promote the widespread dissemination of effective treatments for PTSD. In this review, we first discuss some of the major challenges, such as a professional culture that often is antagonistic to evidence-based treatments (EBTs), a lack of clinician training in EBTs, limited effectiveness of commonly used dissemination techniques, and the significant cost associated with effective dissemination models.

Next, we review local, national, and international efforts to disseminate PE and similar treatments and illustrate the challenges and successes involved in promoting the adoption of EBTs in mental health systems. We then consider ways in which the barriers discussed earlier can be overcome, as well as the difficulties involved in effecting sustained organizational change in mental health systems. We also present examples of efforts to disseminate PE in developing countries and the attendant challenges when mental health systems are severely underdeveloped.

Finally, we present future directions for the dissemination of EBTs for PTSD, including the use of newer technologies such as web-based therapy and telemedicine. We conclude by discussing the need for concerted action among multiple interacting systems in order to overcome existing barriers to dissemination and promote widespread access to effective treatment for PTSD. These systems include graduate training programs, government agencies, health insurers, professional organizations, healthcare delivery systems, clinical researchers, and public education systems like the media. Each of these entities can play a major role in reducing the personal suffering and public health burden associated with posttraumatic stress.