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1.  Interdisciplinary Transgender Veteran Care: Development of a Core Curriculum for VHA Providers 
Transgender Health  2016;1(1):54-62.
Purpose: The Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) has created a training program for interdisciplinary teams of providers on the unique treatment needs of transgender veterans. An overview of this program's structure and content is described along with an evaluation of each session and the program overall.
Methods: A specialty care team delivered 14 didactic courses supplemented with case consultation twice per month over the course of 7 months through video teleconferencing to 16 teams of learners. Each team, consisting of at least one mental health provider (e.g., social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist) and one medical provider (e.g., physician, nurse, physician assistant, advanced practice nurse, or pharmacist), received training and consultation on transgender veteran care.
Results: In the first three waves of learners, 111 providers across a variety of disciplines attended the sessions and received training. Didactic topics included hormone therapy initiation and adjustments, primary care issues, advocacy within the system, and psychotherapy issues. Responses were provided to 39 veteran-specific consult questions to augment learning. Learners reported an increase in knowledge plus an increase in team cohesion and functioning. As a result, learners anticipated treating more transgender veterans in the future.
Conclusion: VHA providers are learning about the unique healthcare needs of transgender veterans and benefitting from the training opportunity offered through the Transgender Specialty Care Access Network–Extension of Community Healthcare Outcomes program. The success of this program in training interdisciplinary teams of providers suggests that it might serve as a model for other large healthcare systems. In addition, it provides a path forward for individual learners (both within VHA and in the community) who wish to increase their knowledge.
PMCID: PMC5685249
access to care; consultation; gender dysphoria; gender identity; gender transition; interdisciplinary; intersex; training; transgender; veteran
2.  Complexity of childhood sexual abuse: Predictors of current PTSD, mood disorders, substance use, and sexual risk behavior among adult men who have sex with men 
Archives of sexual behavior  2015;44(7):1891-1902.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are the group most at risk for HIV and represent the majority of new infections in the United States. Rates of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) among MSM have been estimated as high as 46%. CSA is associated with increased risk of HIV and greater likelihood of HIV sexual risk behavior. The purpose of this study was to identify the relationships between CSA complexity indicators and mental health, substance use, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV sexual risk among MSM. MSM with CSA histories (n = 162) who were screened for an HIV-prevention efficacy trial completed comprehensive psychosocial assessments. Five indicators of complex CSA experiences were created: CSA by family member, CSA with penetration, CSA with physical injury, CSA with intense fear, and first CSA in adolescence. Adjusted regression models were used to identify relationships between CSA complexity and outcomes. Participants reporting CSA by family member were at 2.6 odds of current alcohol use disorder (OR: 2.64: CI 1.24 – 5.63), 2 times higher odds of substance use disorder (OR 2.1: CI 1.02 – 2.36), and 2.7 times higher odds of reporting an STI in the past year (OR 2.7: CI 1.04 – 7.1). CSA with penetration was associated with increased likelihood of current PTSD (OR 3.17: CI 1.56 – 6.43), recent HIV sexual risk behavior (OR 2.7: CI 1.16 – 6.36) and a greater number of casual sexual partners (p = .02). Both CSA with Physical Injury (OR 4.05: CI 1.9 – 8.7) and CSA with Intense Fear (OR 5.16: CI 2.5 – 10.7) were related to increased odds for current PTSD. First CSA in adolescence was related to increased odds of major depressive disorder. These findings suggest that CSA, with one or more complexities, creates patterns of vulnerabilities for MSM, including PTSD, substance use, and sexual risk taking and suggests the need for detailed assessment of CSA and the development of integrated HIV prevention programs that address mental health and substance use comorbidities.
PMCID: PMC4853755  PMID: 26159863
Men who have sex with men (MSM); Childhood sexual abuse (CSA); PTSD; HIV
3.  Sixteen-year follow-up of childhood avalanche survivors 
European Journal of Psychotraumatology  2016;7:10.3402/ejpt.v7.30995.
Every year a substantial number of children are affected by natural disasters worldwide. However, data are scarce on long-term psychological impact of natural disasters on children's health. Identifying risk factors and outcomes associated with the long-term sequelae of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can provide a gateway to recovery as well as enhancement of preventive measures.
Among childhood avalanche survivors, we aimed to investigate risk factors for PTSD symptoms and the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and PTSD symptoms in adulthood.
Childhood survivors (aged 2–19 at the time of exposure) of two avalanches were identified through nationwide registers 16 years later. The Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale was used to assess current PTSD symptoms. One-way ANOVA was used to explore PTSD symptoms by background and trauma-specific factors, as well as associations with current SES. Predictors of PTSD symptoms were examined by multivariable regression analysis.
Response rate was 66% (108/163). Results from univariate ANOVA analysis revealed that female sex was associated with PTSD symptoms (F=5.96, p<0.05). When adjusted for age and sex, PTSD symptoms were associated with lower education (F=7.62, p<0.001), poor financial status (F=12.21, p<0.001), and unemployment and/or disability (F=3.04, p<0.05). In a multivariable regression model, when adjusting for age and sex, lack of social support (t=4.22, p<0.001) and traumatic reactions of caregivers (t=2.49, p<0.05) in the aftermath of the disaster independently predicted PTSD 16 years post-trauma.
Lingering PTSD symptoms after childhood exposure to a disaster may negatively influence socioeconomic development in adulthood. Strengthening children's support systems post-disaster may prevent the long-term sequelae of symptoms.
Highlights of the article
PTSD symptoms following avalanche exposure during childhood were associated with poorer socioeconomic status in adulthood.
Lack of social support and traumatic reactions of caregivers in the aftermath of avalanches predicted PTSD symptoms among childhood survivors 16 years later.
Findings underscore the importance of strengthening children's support systems in the aftermath of disasters.
PMCID: PMC4989177  PMID: 27534741
Children; disaster; avalanche; posttraumatic stress disorder; long-term follow-up
4.  Attentional Interference by Threat and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: The Role of Thought Control Strategies 
Cognition & emotion  2013;27(7):1314-1325.
Attentional interference by threat is associated with PTSD, but the mechanisms of this relationship remain unclear. Attentional interference might be related to increased use of maladaptive thought control strategies, such as suppressing unwanted thoughts (thought suppression) or replacing threatening thoughts with everyday concerns (worry), which increase PTSD risk. Conversely, attentional interference might be associated with reduced use of adaptive strategies, such as talking about threatening thoughts (social control) which decrease PTSD risk. This study tested if thought control strategies mediate the relationship between attentional interference and PTSD. Sixty-one male Vietnam-era veterans completed measures of PTSD symptoms and thought control strategies. Participants also completed a visual search task measuring attentional interference, which required participants to identify a target letter string among a group of threat or neutral words. Attentional interference by threat was related to PTSD symptoms, and mediation analyses revealed significant indirect effects of attentional interference through thought suppression and worry. Attentional interference was related to reexperiencing and avoidance, but not hyperarousal, symptom clusters. Thought suppression was a unique mediator for reexperiencing, whereas thought suppression and worry both mediated the relationship with avoidance. These results offer evidence for maladaptive thought control strategies as a mechanism linking attentional biases for threat to PTSD.
PMCID: PMC3748244  PMID: 23517445
attention; PTSD; information processing bias; thought control; thought suppression
5.  Health Disparities Among Sexual Minority Women Veterans 
Journal of Women's Health  2013;22(7):631-636.
Lesbian and bisexual (i.e., sexual minority) identity is more common among women veterans than among male veterans. Unique health issues have been identified among women veterans and among sexual minority women, but little is known about women who are both sexual minorities and veterans. This study aimed to compare demographic and health information from sexual minority women veterans with sexual minority women non-veterans and heterosexual women veterans.
Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey data were pooled from ten U.S. states that elected to ask sexual identity during 2010. The analytic sample was comprised of women who identified both their sexual identity and veteran status (n=1,908). Mental health indicators were frequent mental distress, sleep problems, low social/emotional support, and low satisfaction with life. Health risk indicators included current smoking, overweight, and obesity. Physical health status was defined by three components: disability requiring assistive equipment, >14 days of poor physical health in the past 30 days, and activity limitations.
Compared with heterosexual women veterans, sexual minority women veterans had higher odds of mental distress (odds ratio [OR]=3.03, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.61–5.70) and smoking (OR=2.31, 95%CI: 1.19–4.48). After adjusting for demographic correlates, sexual minority women veterans had three times the odds of poor physical health (OR=3.01, 95%CI: 1.51–5.99) than their sexual minority non-veteran peers.
Results suggest sexual minority women veterans may experience unique health disparities relevant to provision of care in both Veterans Affairs (VA) and non-VA healthcare systems. Future research requires availability of data that include sexual minority status.
PMCID: PMC3761433  PMID: 23746281
6.  Differential Associations Between Partner Violence and Physical Health Symptoms Among Caucasian and African American Help-Seeking Women 
The relationship between partner violence and physical health symptoms is well-established. Although some researchers have theorized that the physical health effects of partner violence may be worse for ethnic minority women, there is little research addressing this topic. The current study examined whether African American women demonstrate a differential association in this relationship than Caucasian women. This study included 323 women (232 African American, 91 Caucasian) who participated in a larger investigation of the psychological and psychophysiological correlates of recent partner violence among women seeking help for the abuse. Race was examined as a moderator of the relationship between partner violence frequency and physical health symptoms. Although mean levels of partner violence frequency and physical health symptoms did not significantly differ between African American and Caucasian women, linear regression analyses demonstrated a significant positive relationship between partner violence frequency and physical health symptoms for African American women; whereas there was no association observed between these variables for Caucasian women. Post hoc analyses revealed that posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms partially mediated the association between partner violence frequency and physical health symptoms for the African American women. The current findings underscore the importance of considering race when studying the effect of partner violence on women’s health.
PMCID: PMC3632218  PMID: 23616911
race; women; partner violence; physical health; moderation
7.  PTSD and emotional distress symptoms measured after a motor vehicle accident: Relationships with pain coping profiles 
This study explored differences among pain patients classified as Dysfunctional, Interpersonally Distressed, and Adaptive Copers on the Multidimensional Pain Inventory with respect to PTSD symptomatology, anxiety, and depression. Eighty-five patients with pain complaints who had experienced a serious motor vehicle accident (MVA) were classified into these three pain coping categories and assessed using clinician and self-report measures. Results indicated that patients classified as Adaptive Copers (n = 24) showed less PTSD symptomatology, anxiety, and depressed mood, relative to individuals classified as Dysfunctional (n = 36) and as Interpersonally Distressed (n = 25), who did not differ on these dimensions. Emotional responses during the accident (fear, helplessness, danger, perceived control, and certainty that one would die) did not differentiate the groups. Pain profiles contributed to the prediction of self-reported PTSD symptoms, controlling for state anxiety. These data suggest that pain patients with both Dysfunctional and Interpersonally Distressed coping profiles are at elevated risk for a range of post-trauma problems following a serious MVA.
PMCID: PMC1388076  PMID: 16518453
Pain; Posttraumatic Stress Disorder; motor vehicle accident; comorbidity

Results 1-7 (7)