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A Randomized Controlled Trial of Trauma Psychoeducation for Mental Health Literacy in Integrated Primary Care
AdvisorO'Donohue, William T.
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Background: Exposure to trauma is highly prevalent in the U.S. general population, particularly for economically disadvantaged individuals. Trauma is associated with functional disability and poor mental health. Increased susceptibility to psychopathology is best addressed by psychotherapy, however many individuals with psychological distress underutilize mental health services. Psychoeducation can be a cost-effective and brief intervention that can address barriers by increasing individuals’ mental health literacy and positive attitudes towards mental health.Objectives: The purpose of the study was to conduct a Randomized Controlled Trial to examine the effects of a psychoeducational intervention on mental health literacy and attitudes towards mental health treatment in comparison to a waitlist control condition.Methods: 119 participants were recruited from a primary care medical clinic in Northern Nevada and randomized to either the web-based psychoeducational intervention (n = 53) or a waitlist control group (n = 57). Participants completed standardized pre-, post-test and follow-up measures of psychological distress, impairment and knowledge, and beliefs about mental health and treatment engagement.Results: At one-week follow-up, participants in the psychoeducational intervention reported fewer symptoms of PTSD, greater knowledge about access to interventions and more favorable beliefs about the malleability of mental health problems. The psychoeducational intervention had no effect on PTSD mental health literacy, attitudes towards seeking mental health treatment, willingness to engage in treatment, or number of behavioral health concerns at one-week follow-up. Conclusion: Study findings suggest that brief psychoeducational interventions that target mental health literacy may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of PTSD and improving beliefs about mental health problems and access to interventions for some trauma survivors. More research examining the key components of web-based psychoeducational interventions in the context of mental health literacy is necessary.