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Science in Action
Psychiatric/Mental Health
8/27/2014

Penn Nursing and the American Nurses Foundation announce launch of PTSD Toolkit
The American Nurses Foundation announces the launch of PTSD Toolkit, developed in partnership with University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, in response to President Obama’s call to deliver quality health care to veterans.

​The American Nurses Foundation announces the launch of PTSD Toolkit, developed in partnership with University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, in response to President Obama’s call to deliver quality health care to veterans.

In conjunction with President Obama’s address to the American Legion’s 96th convention, the American Nurses Foundation (ANF), the philanthropic arm of the American Nurses Association (ANA), announced the launch of an interactive, web-based post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) toolkit that was developed in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing), to help civilian registered nurses (RNs) better assess and treat PTSD in the nation’s veterans and military service members.

The Foundation’s PTSD Toolkit was highlighted in a White House fact sheet, issued as part of the event, as an innovative way to address veterans’ mental health.

“We are committed to ensuring nurses have the tools they need to be as effective as possible,” said ANF Chair Joyce J. Fitzpatrick, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN. “Nurses can play a far greater role in helping address major national health issues such as PTSD among our nation’s veterans and service members.”

PTSD is a cluster of symptoms that occur when a person experiences or witnesses a threat of injury or death. It is estimated that half a million veterans and military service members suffer the disabling agitation, nightmares and emotional withdrawal that characterize this disorder.

To improve nurse competency in screening and intervening with PTSD in military members, in June of 2013, ANF made an $85,000 grant, made possible by funding from the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, to Penn Nursing to develop the toolkit. Penn Nursing’s Nancy Hanrahan, PhD, RN, FAAN, led the team that worked on the project, which also included doctoral students, Matthew Lee, Grace Olamijulo, BSN, RN, and Pamela Herbig Wall; Lisa Seng, a second degree nursing student; Warren Longmire, software developer; and Lucas Blair, PhD, co-founder of Little Bird Games.

“Nurses often represent the first point of contact for veterans and military personnel seeking care. We want them to have tools to help veterans find the help they need to transition back to civilian life, Hanrahan said. The PTSD Toolkit’s care interventions maximize the potential for self-care management and help move veterans to providers and programs that can help them. PTSD can be treated and cured. Failed transitions from military life to civilian life are unacceptable outcomes.”

The interactive, PTSD-focused website and an e-learning module is based on advanced gaming techniques that will provide immediate access to materials for RNs to assess, treat and refer military members and veterans for help with their symptoms. These e-learning tools will certify that an RN is grounded in assessment, treatment, referral and non-stigmatizing educational approaches to self-care and mutual help.

Joining Forces is a national initiative to engage all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned, led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.  In 2012, ANA, in coordination with the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense, convened a coordinated effort of more than 160 state and national nursing organizations and more than 500 nursing schools to ensure our nation’s 3.1 million nurses can better meet the unique health needs of service members, veterans, and their families.  Obama and Biden announced this initiative at Penn Nursing in April 2012.

ANF has prioritized support of the ANA Joining Forces initiative as a key component to its mission of “transforming the nation’s health through the power of nursing.”

Next, ANF will distribute the toolkit nationally via nursing publications, websites and through emails and newsletters of nursing associations and schools.

The PTSD toolkit is available at www.nurseptsdtoolkit.org.