Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
VISN7 Research symposium showcases innovations
VA Southeast Network hosted its first regional research symposium in Atlanta on Oct. 17, focusing on mental and behavioral health innovations, to bring together world-class researchers throughout the Southeast to expand collaborative investigations and treatment advances.
Behavioral Health Keynote Speaker Stefan Kertesz, MD, Birmingham VA Medical Center, discussed homelessness research on the Housing First model that has been in effect in VA since 2012. The Department is the largest worldwide example of Housing First, focusing on rapid placement of the most vulnerable or at risk Veterans. His study found recovery support must be balanced with the rapid action to house Veterans, especially as Veterans who need the most clinical services generally have more health issues after they are housed.
Emory University Chair of Psychiatry Mark Rappaport, MD provided the keynote speech on Mental Health research, and VA National PTSD Web Content Manager Rebecca Matteo, Ph.D. shared the multitude of guidelines, training tools and apps now available through the PTSD Center’s website.
The symposium’s poster session included presentations on such topics as extending prolonged exposure for Veterans experiencing PTSD, a pilot study on the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction in PTSD and brain response in combat Veterans with PTSD. Posters on establishing opioid overdose education, and safe prescribing strategy for women of childbearing age in mental health were also presented.
Several of the research studies showcased at the symposium are collaborative efforts partnering VISN7 medical center research teams. Numerous VISN7 studies also involve collaborations with Department of Defense and industry to further innovations for treatment of clinical issues prevalent in the Veteran population.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a leading research organization with world-class investigators across the VA Southeast Network discovering the latest clinical advances in suicide mitigation and prevention, the treatment of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and pharmacotherapy safety to address the complex needs of Veterans. Future symposiums could focus on high impact basic science, clinical and health services research.