ADF Post Discharge GP Health Assessment
Service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) brings with it many benefits, but there are also unique occupational risks of military service. Primary care is an important sector in which a range of health issues can be identified.
The ADF Post-discharge GP Health Assessment is a one-off assessment to help GPs and practice nurses identify and diagnose any early signs of physical and/or mental health problems among ex-serving personnel. This health assessment is available to all former serving members of the ADF, of either the permanent or reserve forces, and can be delivered using Medicare items 701, 703, 705 and 707.
To support health professionals in performing this health assessment, DVA has funded the development of an assessment tool by Flinders University. A pdf of the assessment tool can be downloaded from DVA’s At Ease Professional website and a version of the tool is conveniently available in the Best Practice and Medical Director Practice software packages.
GPs can work through the assessment tool with their patient, using clinically recommended screening measures for ex-serving military personnel. A copy of the completed assessment can also be given to the patient as per MBS requirements. The tool also includes information about veteran referral pathways and treatment options for ex-serving personnel identified as needing assistance.
Further resources for GPs and practice nurses who treat veterans is on its way. A guide and quick reference guide for this health assessment are currently in development and will be available in the coming months. These resources will detail key actions for positive screens, treatment options and referral pathways.
Identifying if your patient has served in the military is the important first step in providing a whole-of-person assessment of their mental and physical health.
Evidence Compass Website – keeping your finger on the pulse of veteran health
The Evidence Compass website, developed for DVA by the Australian Centre of Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) gives health professionals easy access to important research literature on veteran health topics.
No more searching the internet, reading long research articles, and trying to work out what it all means. DVA has done the hard work for you: commissioning rapid evidence assessments on a range of veteran mental health issues and publishing these on the Evidence Compass for use by busy clinicians.
The Evidence Compass currently hosts downloadable reports on a range of mental health topics, including:
- What are effective psychological or multi-modal interventions for adults experiencing chronic pain?
- Is stepped care an effective model for the delivery of treatment for depression and anxiety?
- What are effective interventions for veterans with sleep disturbances?
- What are the effective interventions for veterans with problematic anger and aggression?
- What are the effective psychological interventions for adults with depression
- What emerging interventions are effective for the treatment of adults with PTSD?
- What is the prevalence rate for substance use disorder in contemporary ex-serving veterans?
The Evidence Compass is all about health clinicians and their veteran patients. DVA invites you to give us your feedback on the website and suggestions for future reports. The Website’s Evidence Grid will guide users in identifying which areas of research have been covered, and which are yet to be explored. Suggestions and feedback can be forwarded via the links at the bottom of the site’s pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Improving Primary Mental Health Care For Veterans
DVA recently launched an online training programme designed to support General Practitioners in delivering better mental health outcomes for veterans and their families.
Research has shown that veteran patients are far less likely to open up to their health provider if they feel as though their military experience is poorly understood. DVA has developed a number of resources to help doctors and allied health providers to better understand the military experience and how this can continue to shape the lives of veterans even after leaving the Australian Defence Force.
In December, a new e-learning program, Working with Veterans with Mental Health Problems was launched and will facilitate better understanding of the mental health issues faced by veterans, as well as more effective early intervention.
The one hour programme was developed specifically for GPs by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and is available through the RACGP’s online learning management system gplearning.
It comprises a number of different modules, each focussing on a separate aspect of the military experience and veteran mental health. The learnings are reinforced through a number of hypothetical case studies that highlight the different experiences of younger and older veterans, people from different arms of the ADF, as well as experiences of female veterans. The course also details veteran referral pathways to ensure veterans can access allied and specialist care without delay.
For information on accessing this programme, click here.
Tools for Providers
Most people go everywhere with their mobile phone, so why not use mobile technology to support clinical outcomes for your patients?
PTSD Coach Australia – patients can manage symptoms using CBT tools and email their PCL results to you between consultations.
ON TRACK with The Right Mix – patients can track the impact of alcohol on their fitness and finances. Can be used as a drinks diary, with results emailed to you.