Objective: To examine whether a traumatic brain injury (TBI) diagnosis was associated with increased outpatient service utilization and associated costs among Iraq and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom [OEF]/Operation Iraqi Freedom [OIF]/Operation New Dawn [OND]) War veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who used Veterans Health Affairs (VHA) care in a 1-year period. Setting: N/A. Participants: OEF/OIF/OND veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD and/or TBI who utilized VHA services during fiscal year 2012 (N = 164 644). Design: Observational study using VHA administrative data. Main Measures: Outpatient VHA utilization (total and by category of care) and associated costs (total and by VA Health Economic Resource Center cost category). Results: Veterans in the comorbid PTSD/TBI group had significantly more total outpatient appointment than veterans with PTSD but no TBI. This pattern held for all categories of care except orthopedics. The comorbid TBI/PTSD group ($5769) incurred greater median outpatient healthcare costs than the PTSD ($3168) or TBI-alone ($2815) group. Conclusions: Co-occurring TBI increases the already high level of healthcare utilization by veterans with PTSD, suggesting that OEF/OIF/OND veterans with comorbid PTSD/TBI have complex and wide-ranging healthcare needs.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Office of Research and Development, Polytrauma and Blast-Related Injuries Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, through a locally initiated project grant (#PLY 05-2010-2).
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- Healthcare costs
- Healthcare utilization
- Stress disorders
- TBI (traumatic brain injury)