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VetsPrevail, a VA online program backed by the National Science Foundation, reached a milestone this month of helping more than 30,000 veterans. Their website provides veterans with online self-assessment, peer coaching, online communities, personalized and interactive lessons and a gaming environment — in effect, interactive psychoeducation — to help those with PTSD and depression.

Prevail Health, a digital mental health company, was founded by Richard Gengler, a combat aircraft carrier pilot. The company states that two clinical trials have demonstrated a reduction of symptoms in various psychiatric domains. Built in partnership with the National Science Foundation, Prevail Health’s programs have been shown in multiple clinical trials to deliver clinical results similar to face-to-face interventions at a tiny fraction of the cost.

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This work is important, given that an estimated 22 veterans in the United States commit suicide daily. And, up to 20% of returning service members fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to have significant mental health and substance use disorders, according to the Walter Reed Army Institute (source: American Psychiatric Association) tools.png

70359-image00The VA itself has prioritized mental health, with over 10 apps in the VA App Store teaching users about sleep disorders, PTSD, anxiety, and smoking cessation. Although Prevail Health does not offer a dedicated app that takes advantage of mobile device capabilities, the platform is accessible and optimized for mobile web browsers.

Prevail Health is now part of an increasing number of digital behavioral health companies, including HealthLinkNow, Cloud 9, Mentegram, and Big White Wall.

One pilot clinical trial of 50 veterans has demonstrated a reduction in depression and PTSD symptoms as measured at baseline and throughout the intervention with three assessments: the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression (CES-D), PTSD Checklist-Military version (PCL-M), and the 12-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) mental and physical symptom assessments. The trial also showed an increased willingness to accept the diagnosis, which is important with mental illness that tends to be stigmatized in society. The trial by Van Voorhees and colleagues, was published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development.

Although no published studies referencing Vets Prevail or Prevail Health in the peer-reviewed literature have been found in PubMed, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) has featured Vets Prevail on the AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange.

The AHRQ rated Vets Prevail as having a “strong” evidence rating, noting that Vets Prevail’s effectiveness was demonstrated by “multiple studies, including a randomized, controlled trial and two studies evaluating key metrics before and after program implementation.”