APA Sponsors Congressional Briefing on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
On September 17, APA sponsored an educational briefing on Capitol Hill, "Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Research Priorities and Frontiers in Civilian and Military Populations," to highlight progress and opportunities within psychological science that contribute to our understanding of PTSD. Reps. Lois Capps and Mike Castle, Co-Chairs of the Biomedical Research Caucus, cosponsored the event. The briefing educated Congressional staff and members of the health advocacy community about scientific progress and pressing needs regarding PTSD, including its diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. Two APA members, Drs. Barbara Rothbaum from Emory University Medical Center and Bonnie Green from Georgetown University Medical Center presented their cutting edge research on trauma in military and civilian populations. Following welcoming remarks by APA's Executive Director for Science, Dr. Steve Breckler, NIMH Director, Dr. Tom Insel, introduced the speakers and moderated the briefing. In doing so, he emphasized the great work that psychological scientists do to enhance the public's understanding of PTSD and provide effective interventions. NIMH has invested substantial resources in research to better understand and treat trauma. Visit the NIMH website to view the NIMH trauma program.
Both speakers highlighted the importance of investing public health dollars in NIMH to meet the needs of a growing population of individuals suffering from PTSD. Rothbaum discussed exploratory gene x environment research that may be useful for predicting who is at risk for developing PTSD. She also presented a virtual reality program used to treat returning veterans diagnosed with PTSD. Green's presentation focused on treating trauma and PTSD in the uninsured and suggested opportunities for making mental health care more accessible to trauma survivors in primary care settings.
The discussion generated by attendees at the end of the briefing reflected a thoughtful understanding both of the science and its policy applications. Questions concerned the possibility of creating a behavioral "vaccine" against developing PTSD; using PTSD to leverage mental health integration into primary care settings; and delineating PTSD risks in vets versus active duty soldiers.
Although APA is disappointed that the NIMH Strategic Plan does not address the importance of basic behavioral research in its own right, we were pleased to collaborate with the Institute on this briefing and look forward to continued cooperation on issues of common concern.