A prospective examination of health care costs associated with posttraumatic stress disorder diagnostic status and symptom severity among veterans

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Martin S. Andersen, Associate Professor (Creator)
Blair Wisco, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with increased health care costs; however, most studies exploring this association use PTSD diagnostic data in administrative records, which can contain inaccurate diagnostic information and be confounded by the quantity of service use. We used a diagnostic interview to determine PTSD diagnostic status and examined associations between PTSD symptom severity and health care costs and utilization, extracted from Veteran Health Administration (VHA) administrative databases. Using a nationwide longitudinal sample of U.S. veterans with and without PTSD (N = 1,377) enrolled in VHA health care, we determined the costs and utilization of mental health and non–mental health outpatient, pharmacy, and inpatient services for 1 year following cohort enrollment. Relative to veterans without PTSD, those with PTSD had higher total health care, B = 0.47; mental health clinic care, B = 0.72; non–mental health clinic care, B = 0.30; and pharmacy costs, B = 0.72, ps < .001. More severe PTSD symptoms were associated with mental health clinic care costs, B = 0.12; non–mental health clinic care costs, B = 0.27; and higher odds of inpatient, B = 0.63, and emergency service use, B = 0.39, p < .001–p = .012. These findings indicate that veterans’ PTSD status, determined by a clinician-administered semistructured diagnostic interview, was associated with higher health care costs and increased use of mental health and non–mental health clinic services. The findings also suggest that more severe PTSD is associated with increased costs and utilization, including costly emergency and inpatient utilization.

Additional Information

Journal of Traumatic Stress, 35(2), 671–681. DOI: 10.1002/jts.22785
Language: English
Date: 2022
posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, veterans, health care costs

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