Nurses now have access to a one-stop site for information about post-traumatic stress disorder to help improve outcomes for veterans with the condition.
The PTSD Toolkit for Nurses (http://www.nurseptsdtoolkit.org/) provides an efficient way to learn about the condition and be better able to recognize veterans who are having difficulty transitioning from military service to civilian life, said Nancy Hanrahan, PhD, RN, FAAN, associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, one of the leads of the project. The toolkit launched in August with the help of an $85,000 grant from the American Nurses Foundation, which funded the initiative.
The American Nurses Foundation granted the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing the funds to develop the e-learning opportunity on PTSD for nurses, Hanrahan said.
The toolkit offers e-learning techniques through an easy-to-use progression of Web pages that inform nurses about assessment of PTSD symptoms; highlights the problems faced by veterans, their families and their friends; and focuses on facilitating getting veterans help to identify and move through those problems, Hanrahan said.
The project was highlighted in a White House fact sheet as an innovative way to address mental health issues facing veterans. The toolkit can take advantage of the skills of nurses who can have a widespread impact in detecting veterans having difficulty with the transition to civilian life, Hanrahan said.
The toolkit encourages nurses to ask patients, Have you ever served? Automatically asking about military service is important because military experience can provide a different sort of context for patients, said Kate Judge, executive director of the American Nurses Foundation. It can alert nurses to clues that will assist in assessing and treating the patient. The toolkit also helps deal with the stigma associated with PTSD, which can affect how nurses assess patients, Hanrahan said.
The PTSD toolkit was designed to build nurses skill with assessment of PTSD symptoms, focus on assessing the veterans help-seeking status and facilitate referral for help, Hanrahan said. The PTSD toolkit builds motivational interviewing strategies that assist veterans to take action and seek help.
Karen Long is a freelance writer.