PTSD Coach – Mobile Application
The Mobile App
PTSD Coach, a free mobile phone app, features state-of-the-science cognitive behavioral techniques to promote self-management of PTSD symptoms.
Developed jointly by the Department of Veteran Affair’s National Center for PTSD and Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology, PTSD Coach was designed as a mobile application to assist Veterans and Active Duty personnel (and civilians) who are experiencing symptoms of PTSD. It can provide help as an adjunct to psychological treatment, but can also serve as a stand-alone education and self-help tool.
Features of PTSD Coach
The questionnaire used in PTSD Coach, the PTSD Checklist (PCL), is a reliable self-report measure used across the VA, DoD, and in the community (note: it is not intended to replace professional evaluation). This app can help individuals learn about and manage symptoms that often occur after trauma, and can be on hand for veterans with PTSD whenever and wherever their symptoms flare up. Key features of the app include:
- Self-Assessment: Self-assessment of PTSD symptoms with individualized feedback, and ability to track changes in symptoms over time. The assessment does not formally diagnose PTSD.
- Manage Symptoms: Coping skills and assistance for common kinds of posttraumatic stress symptoms and problems, including systematic relaxation and self-help techniques.
- Find Support: Assistance in finding immediate support. The app enables individuals to identify personal sources of emotional support, populate the phone with those phone numbers, and link to treatment programs. And in an emergency, users can quickly link to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
- Learn about PTSD: Education about key topics related to trauma, PTSD, and treatment.
In addition to the mobile app, PTSD Coach Online is available for anyone who needs help with upsetting feelings, including trauma survivors, their families, or anyone coping with stress. This on-line website provides users with 17 different tools for addressing a variety of challenges, from problem solving skills to avoidance of stressful situations.
Clinical Trial with PTSD Coach
According to ClinicalTrials.gov, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has recently completed a clinical trial of PTSD Coach to test whether the app is more effective with clinician support (clinicaltrial.gov identifier: NCT02400710).
After a first phase of interviews with primary care and mental health practitioners to assess implementing clinical-supported PTSD Coach, investigators initiated a small 16-week study of 20 veterans with PTSD who were randomized to either clinician-supported or self-managed interactions with the app. The study has two goals: to assess the feasibility of recruiting and retaining participants and to evaluate the efficacy of this technology with and without clinician supervision.
Investigators will compare outcomes in patients in terms of “a) reductions in PTSD, depression, and general distress, and increases in health-related functioning, b) increases in knowledge about PTSD symptoms, PTSD management strategies, and patient coping self-efficacy, c) increases in initiation of tradition PTSD treatments.” The trial was conducted at the Syracuse VA Medical Center, and recently completed in January 2016 with results forthcoming.
Clinical Trials with PTSD Coach – Abstracts:
- Using PTSD Coach in primary care with and without clinician support: a pilot randomized controlled trial
- Preliminary evaluation of PTSD Coach, a smartphone app for post-traumatic stress symptoms
Clinical Trials with PTSD Coach – Full Text Articles:
PTSD Coach In the News
PTSD Coach has been downloaded over 230,000 times in 95 countries around the world. This application has garnered considerable interest and awards, including the President’s Award for Innovation by the American Telemedicine Association in 2012, the Award for Advancements in Accessibility by the Federal Communication Commission Chairman’s in 2011, and it was named the best federal government app (NextGov.com) in 2011. PTSD Coach is available on the App Store and Google Play.