Publications by authors named "Jean C Beckham"

253 Publications

Reciprocal effects between depressive symptoms and pain in veterans over 50.

Pain Med 2021 Oct 13. Epub 2021 Oct 13.

Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Durham, NC.

Objective: Depression and chronic pain are major problems in American veterans, yet there is limited long-term research examining how they relate to one another in this population. This study examined the relationship between depressive symptoms and pain in U.S. veterans aged 50+.

Methods: This study used data on veterans from the 2002-2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 4,302), a large-scale observational study of Americans aged 50+. Measures included a short form of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and two items assessing the presence and degree of pain. Analyses included random intercept cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPM).

Results: In the RI-CLPM, there were roughly equivalent cross-lagged effects between depressive symptoms and pain. There was also evidence that depressive symptoms and pain have a trait-like component and that these trait-like characteristics are associated.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that depressive symptoms and pain in veterans are stable characteristics in American veterans over 50. There appear to be reciprocal effects between the two, whereby deviations in one's typical depressive symptoms predict subsequent deviations in one's pain level and vice-versa; however, the size of these effects is very small. These findings suggest that clinicians should treat both depressive symptoms and pain, rather than assume that treatment benefits in one domain will lead to major benefits in another.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnab294DOI Listing
October 2021

Pilot Cohorts for Development of Concurrent Mobile Treatment for Alcohol and Tobacco Use Disorders.

Subst Abuse 2021 16;15:11782218211030524. Epub 2021 Sep 16.

Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Durham, NC, USA.

Alcohol and tobacco are the 2 most frequently used drugs in the United States and represent the highest co-occurrence of polysubstance use. The objective of this study was to refine an intervention combining mobile contingency management with cognitive-behavioral telephone counseling for concurrent treatment of alcohol and tobacco use disorders. Two cohorts (n = 13 total, n = 5 women) of participants were enrolled, with 10/13 completing treatment and 7/13 completing the 6-month follow-up. At enrollment, participants were drinking a mean of 28.9 drinks per week (SD = 14.1), with a mean of 14.7 heavy drinking days in the past month (SD = 9.9), and a mean of 18.1 cigarettes per day (SD = 11.7). Treatment included a mobile application that participants used to record carbon monoxide and breath alcohol content readings to bioverify abstinence. Participants received up to 4 sessions of phone cognitive-behavioral therapy and monetary reinforcement contingent on abstinence. In cohort 1, 4/6 participants reported abstinent or low-risk drinking post-monitoring. Six weeks post quit-date, 2/6 participants were CO-bioverified abstinent from tobacco use, with 2/6 in dual remission. These results were maintained at 6-months. In cohort 2, 6/7 reported abstinent or low-risk drinking post-monitoring, 5 weeks post quit-date. At the post-monitoring visit, 5/7 were CO-bioverified abstinent from smoking, with 5/7 in dual remission. At 6-months, 3/7 reporting abstinent or low-risk drinking, 1/7 had bioverified abstinence from smoking, with 1/7 in dual remission. Observations suggest that it is possible to develop a concurrent mobile treatment for alcohol and tobacco use disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/11782218211030524DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8451000PMC
September 2021

A real-world evaluation of a smokeless tobacco cessation text message program for veterans: Outcomes and comparison to cigarette smokers.

Nicotine Tob Res 2021 Sep 21. Epub 2021 Sep 21.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, 2301 Erwin Road, Durham, NC 27705, United States.

Introduction: Smokeless tobacco (ST) use and cessation rates have remained unchanged while cigarette smoking has declined, and cessation rates have increased. Text message programs have proved effective for cigarette smokers but have not been evaluated for ST users. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) created a ST-specific arm of its SmokefreeVET automated text message program to help veteran ST users quit.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation was conducted on a real-world sample of veteran ST users (n=1,139) who subscribed to SmokefreeVET between 2017 and 2020. Time in program, abstinence, and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) use were evaluated and compared to 9,764 cigarette smokers who subscribed to SmokefreeVET.

Results: Younger subscribers were more likely to opt out early; 54% of ST users and 60% of cigarette smokers completed the 6-week program. ST users were more likely to report abstinence than cigarette smokers at all time points: the primary outcome, 30-day abstinence at 6 months, was 3.9% in ST users and 2.6% in cigarette smokers (p=.05) and the secondary outcome, abstinence at 3 months, was 5.3% in ST users and 3.4% in cigarette smokers (p=.03). NRT was used by 17% of ST users and was associated with a trend toward higher abstinence compared to ST users who did not use NRT.

Conclusion: A real-world sample of ST users were more likely to report abstinence after using the SmokefreeVET text program than cigarette smokers. Automated text message programs may be effective for increasing cessation among ST users and warrant further investigation.

Implications: Smokeless tobacco (ST) cessation is an important public health priority and of importance for veteran and military populations that have higher rates of ST use. There have been relatively few studies conducted investigating the effectiveness of text message interventions for ST cessation, despite the proven efficacy for cigarette smokers. This study provides evidence from a large, real-world sample that text message programs may be effective for ST users and suggests that further research into this treatment modality for ST users is needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntab191DOI Listing
September 2021

A Comparison of Group Anger Management Treatments for Combat Veterans With PTSD: Results From a Quasi-Experimental Trial.

J Interpers Violence 2021 10 6;36(19-20):NP10276-NP10300. Epub 2019 Sep 6.

Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center, NC, USA.

Difficulty controlling anger is a significant concern among combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet few controlled studies have examined the efficacy of anger treatments for this population. This study examined the effects of a group cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) intervention compared with a group present-centered therapy (PCT) control condition in male and female combat veterans with PTSD. Thirty-six combat veterans with PTSD and anger difficulties began group treatment (CBT, = 19; PCT, = 17). Separate multilevel models of self-rated anger, PTSD symptoms, and disability were conducted using data from baseline, each of 12 treatment sessions, posttreatment, and 3- and 6-month follow-up time points. Significant decreases in anger and PTSD symptoms were observed over time, but no significant differences between CBT and PCT were observed on these outcomes. A significant interaction of therapy by time favoring the PCT condition was observed on disability scores. Gender differences were observed in dropout rates (i.e., 100% of female participants dropped out of CBT). Findings suggest that both CBT and PCT group therapy may be effective in reducing anger in combat veterans with PTSD. Results also highlight potential gender differences in response to group anger treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0886260519873335DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8443849PMC
October 2021

Diet quality and exercise in older veterans with PTSD: a pilot study.

Transl Behav Med 2021 Sep 6. Epub 2021 Sep 6.

Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, VA Durham Healthcare System, Durham, NC, USA.

Older veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are at increased risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease. Physical activity and healthy eating are two behaviors that impact health, functional independence, and disease risk in later life, yet few studies have examined the relationship between PTSD and diet quality. This secondary analysis aimed to: (a) characterize the diet quality of older veterans with PTSD in comparison to U.S. dietary guidelines and (b) explore if participation in a supervised exercise intervention spurred simultaneous changes in dietary behavior. Diet quality was assessed with the Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ), which measures daily intake of fiber, calcium, added sugar, whole grain, dairy, and fruits/vegetables/legumes. The sample included 54 military veterans ≥ 60 years old with PTSD who participated in a randomized controlled pilot trial comparing 12 weeks of supervised exercise (n = 36) to wait-list usual care (n = 18). The DSQ was administered at baseline and 12 weeks. Consumption of added sugar exceeded U.S. dietary guideline recommendations and consumption of whole grains, fruits/vegetables/legumes, fiber, calcium, and dairy fell short. Participation in the supervised exercise intervention was not associated with changes in diet quality. Results revealed that the diet quality of older veterans with PTSD is poor, and while the exercise intervention improved health through exercise, it did not make veterans any more likely to adopt a more healthful diet. Interventions targeting diet, or diet + exercise, are needed to manage the increased risk of obesity and cardiometabolic disease present in older veterans with PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/tbm/ibab116DOI Listing
September 2021

Military Sexual Trauma and Adverse Mental and Physical Health and Clinical Comorbidity in Women Veterans.

Womens Health Issues 2021 Aug 31. Epub 2021 Aug 31.

Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Health Care System, Los Angeles, California.

Introduction: Military sexual trauma (MST)-exposure to sexual harassment or assault during military service-is a major health priority for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA). We examined the health correlates of MST in the largest sample of U.S. women veterans studied to date.

Methods: Using national VHA electronic medical record data, we identified 502,199 women veterans who enrolled in the VHA between January 1, 2000, and December 31, 2017, had at least one VHA visit, and were screened for MST (exclusive of those who declined to answer the screening). We conducted logistic regression analyses to examine associations of a positive MST screen with various mental and physical health conditions-defined by administrative diagnostic codes-and comorbidity of mental and/or physical health conditions. Models were adjusted for demographic and military service characteristics, along with duration in the VHA.

Results: Approximately 26% (n = 130,738) of women veterans screened positive for MST. In fully adjusted models, a positive MST screen was associated with greater risk of having all mental and physical health conditions examined, except cancer-related conditions, ranging from 9% greater odds of rheumatic disease to 5.4 times greater odds of post-traumatic stress disorder. MST was also associated with greater comorbidity, including greater odds of having ≥2 mental health conditions (odds ratio [OR], 3.28; 99% confidence interval [CI], 3.20-3.37), having ≥2 physical health conditions (OR, 1.26; 99% CI, 1.22-1.29), and having ≥1 mental health condition and ≥1 physical health condition (OR, 2.05; 99% CI, 2.00-2.11).

Conclusions: Findings suggest that MST is common in women veterans and may play a role in the clinical complexity arising from comorbid conditions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2021.07.004DOI Listing
August 2021

Gene Expression Analysis in Three Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Cohorts Implicates Inflammation and Innate Immunity Pathways and Uncovers Shared Genetic Risk With Major Depressive Disorder.

Front Neurosci 2021 29;15:678548. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex psychiatric disorder that can develop following exposure to traumatic events. The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium PTSD group (PGC-PTSD) has collected over 20,000 multi-ethnic PTSD cases and controls and has identified both genetic and epigenetic factors associated with PTSD risk. To further investigate biological correlates of PTSD risk, we examined three PGC-PTSD cohorts comprising 977 subjects to identify differentially expressed genes among PTSD cases and controls. Whole blood gene expression was quantified with the HumanHT-12 v4 Expression BeadChip for 726 OEF/OIF veterans from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), 155 samples from the Injury and Traumatic Stress (INTRuST) Clinical Consortium, and 96 Australian Vietnam War veterans. Differential gene expression analysis was performed in each cohort separately followed by meta-analysis. In the largest cohort, we performed co-expression analysis to identify modules of genes that are associated with PTSD and MDD. We then conducted expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis and assessed the presence of eQTL interactions involving PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD). Finally, we utilized PTSD and MDD GWAS summary statistics to identify regions that colocalize with eQTLs. Although not surpassing correction for multiple testing, the most differentially expressed genes in meta-analysis were interleukin-1 beta (), a pro-inflammatory cytokine previously associated with PTSD, and integrin-linked kinase (), which is highly expressed in brain and can rescue dysregulated hippocampal neurogenesis and memory deficits. Pathway analysis revealed enrichment of toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 receptor genes, which are integral to cellular innate immune response. Co-expression analysis identified four modules of genes associated with PTSD, two of which are also associated with MDD, demonstrating common biological pathways underlying the two conditions. Lastly, we identified four genes (, , , and ) with high probability of a shared causal eQTL variant with PTSD and/or MDD GWAS variants, thereby providing a potential mechanism by which the GWAS variant contributes to disease risk. In summary, we provide additional evidence for genes and pathways previously reported and identified plausible novel candidates for PTSD. These data provide further insight into genetic factors and pathways involved in PTSD, as well as potential regions of pleiotropy between PTSD and MDD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.678548DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8358297PMC
July 2021

Gene Expression Analysis in Three Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Cohorts Implicates Inflammation and Innate Immunity Pathways and Uncovers Shared Genetic Risk With Major Depressive Disorder.

Front Neurosci 2021 29;15:678548. Epub 2021 Jul 29.

Duke Molecular Physiology Institute, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, United States.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex psychiatric disorder that can develop following exposure to traumatic events. The Psychiatric Genomics Consortium PTSD group (PGC-PTSD) has collected over 20,000 multi-ethnic PTSD cases and controls and has identified both genetic and epigenetic factors associated with PTSD risk. To further investigate biological correlates of PTSD risk, we examined three PGC-PTSD cohorts comprising 977 subjects to identify differentially expressed genes among PTSD cases and controls. Whole blood gene expression was quantified with the HumanHT-12 v4 Expression BeadChip for 726 OEF/OIF veterans from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC), 155 samples from the Injury and Traumatic Stress (INTRuST) Clinical Consortium, and 96 Australian Vietnam War veterans. Differential gene expression analysis was performed in each cohort separately followed by meta-analysis. In the largest cohort, we performed co-expression analysis to identify modules of genes that are associated with PTSD and MDD. We then conducted expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) analysis and assessed the presence of eQTL interactions involving PTSD and major depressive disorder (MDD). Finally, we utilized PTSD and MDD GWAS summary statistics to identify regions that colocalize with eQTLs. Although not surpassing correction for multiple testing, the most differentially expressed genes in meta-analysis were interleukin-1 beta (), a pro-inflammatory cytokine previously associated with PTSD, and integrin-linked kinase (), which is highly expressed in brain and can rescue dysregulated hippocampal neurogenesis and memory deficits. Pathway analysis revealed enrichment of toll-like receptor (TLR) and interleukin-1 receptor genes, which are integral to cellular innate immune response. Co-expression analysis identified four modules of genes associated with PTSD, two of which are also associated with MDD, demonstrating common biological pathways underlying the two conditions. Lastly, we identified four genes (, , , and ) with high probability of a shared causal eQTL variant with PTSD and/or MDD GWAS variants, thereby providing a potential mechanism by which the GWAS variant contributes to disease risk. In summary, we provide additional evidence for genes and pathways previously reported and identified plausible novel candidates for PTSD. These data provide further insight into genetic factors and pathways involved in PTSD, as well as potential regions of pleiotropy between PTSD and MDD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.678548DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8358297PMC
July 2021

Experiential avoidance is associated with medical and mental health diagnoses in a national sample of deployed Gulf War veterans.

J Psychiatr Res 2021 Oct 22;142:17-24. Epub 2021 Jul 22.

Durham VA Health Care System, 508 Fulton Street, Durham, NC, 27705, USA; VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center, 3022 Croasdaile Dr., Durham, NC, 27705, USA; Duke University School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, DUMC 3625, Durham, NC, 27710, USA. Electronic address:

A substantial minority of deployed Gulf War veterans developed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and several chronic illnesses. Although military combat and exposure to certain nuclear, biological, and chemical agents (NBCs) increase risk for post-deployment health problems, they do not fully explain many Gulf War veteran health diagnoses and are not viable treatment targets. Experiential avoidance (EA; one's unwillingness to remain in contact with unpleasant internal experiences) is a modifiable psychosocial risk factor associated with PTSD and depression in veterans as well as pain and gastrointestinal diseases in the general population. In this study, we recruited a national sample of deployed Gulf War veterans (N = 454) to test the hypothesis that greater EA would be significantly associated with higher lifetime odds of PTSD, depression, "Gulf War Illness" (GWI/CMI), and other chronic illnesses common in this veteran cohort. Participants completed a self-report battery assessing demographic, military-related, and health-related information. Multivariate analyses showed that after adjusting for age, sex, race, combat exposure, and NBC exposure, worse EA was associated with higher lifetime odds of PTSD, depression GWI/CMI, gastrointestinal problems, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome (ORs ranged 1.25 to 2.89; effect sizes ranged small to large), but not asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our findings suggest medical and mental health providers alike should assess for EA and potentially target EA as part of a comprehensive, biopsychosocial approach to improving Gulf War veterans' health and wellbeing. Study limitations and future research directions are also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.07.033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8429252PMC
October 2021

Examining Individual and Synergistic Contributions of PTSD and Genetics to Blood Pressure: A Trans-Ethnic Meta-Analysis.

Front Neurosci 2021 23;15:678503. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Department of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, United States.

Growing research suggests that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be a risk factor for poor cardiovascular health, and yet our understanding of who might be at greatest risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes after trauma is limited. In this study, we conducted the first examination of the individual and synergistic contributions of PTSD symptoms and blood pressure genetics to continuous blood pressure levels. We harnessed the power of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium-PTSD Physical Health Working Group and investigated these associations across 11 studies of 72,224 trauma-exposed individuals of European ( = 70,870) and African ( = 1,354) ancestry. Genetic contributions to blood pressure were modeled via polygenic scores (PGS) for systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) that were derived from a prior trans-ethnic blood pressure genome-wide association study (GWAS). Results of trans-ethnic meta-analyses revealed significant main effects of the PGS on blood pressure levels [SBP: β = 2.83, standard error (SE) = 0.06, < 1E-20; DBP: β = 1.32, SE = 0.04, < 1E-20]. Significant main effects of PTSD symptoms were also detected for SBP and DBP in trans-ethnic meta-analyses, though there was significant heterogeneity in these results. When including data from the largest contributing study - United Kingdom Biobank - PTSD symptoms were negatively associated with SBP levels (β = -1.46, SE = 0.44, = 9.8E-4) and positively associated with DBP levels (β = 0.70, SE = 0.26, = 8.1E-3). However, when excluding the United Kingdom Biobank cohort in trans-ethnic meta-analyses, there was a nominally significant positive association between PTSD symptoms and SBP levels (β = 2.81, SE = 1.13, = 0.01); no significant association was observed for DBP (β = 0.43, SE = 0.78, = 0.58). Blood pressure PGS did not significantly moderate the associations between PTSD symptoms and blood pressure levels in meta-analyses. Additional research is needed to better understand the extent to which PTSD is associated with high blood pressure and how genetic as well as contextual factors may play a role in influencing cardiovascular risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.678503DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262489PMC
June 2021

Examining Individual and Synergistic Contributions of PTSD and Genetics to Blood Pressure: A Trans-Ethnic Meta-Analysis.

Front Neurosci 2021 23;15:678503. Epub 2021 Jun 23.

Department of Psychiatry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, United States.

Growing research suggests that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may be a risk factor for poor cardiovascular health, and yet our understanding of who might be at greatest risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes after trauma is limited. In this study, we conducted the first examination of the individual and synergistic contributions of PTSD symptoms and blood pressure genetics to continuous blood pressure levels. We harnessed the power of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium-PTSD Physical Health Working Group and investigated these associations across 11 studies of 72,224 trauma-exposed individuals of European ( = 70,870) and African ( = 1,354) ancestry. Genetic contributions to blood pressure were modeled via polygenic scores (PGS) for systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) that were derived from a prior trans-ethnic blood pressure genome-wide association study (GWAS). Results of trans-ethnic meta-analyses revealed significant main effects of the PGS on blood pressure levels [SBP: β = 2.83, standard error (SE) = 0.06, < 1E-20; DBP: β = 1.32, SE = 0.04, < 1E-20]. Significant main effects of PTSD symptoms were also detected for SBP and DBP in trans-ethnic meta-analyses, though there was significant heterogeneity in these results. When including data from the largest contributing study - United Kingdom Biobank - PTSD symptoms were negatively associated with SBP levels (β = -1.46, SE = 0.44, = 9.8E-4) and positively associated with DBP levels (β = 0.70, SE = 0.26, = 8.1E-3). However, when excluding the United Kingdom Biobank cohort in trans-ethnic meta-analyses, there was a nominally significant positive association between PTSD symptoms and SBP levels (β = 2.81, SE = 1.13, = 0.01); no significant association was observed for DBP (β = 0.43, SE = 0.78, = 0.58). Blood pressure PGS did not significantly moderate the associations between PTSD symptoms and blood pressure levels in meta-analyses. Additional research is needed to better understand the extent to which PTSD is associated with high blood pressure and how genetic as well as contextual factors may play a role in influencing cardiovascular risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.678503DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8262489PMC
June 2021

Phenome-wide association of 1809 phenotypes and COVID-19 disease progression in the Veterans Health Administration Million Veteran Program.

PLoS One 2021 13;16(5):e0251651. Epub 2021 May 13.

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America.

Background: The risk factors associated with the stages of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) disease progression are not well known. We aim to identify risk factors specific to each state of COVID-19 progression from SARS-CoV-2 infection through death.

Methods And Results: We included 648,202 participants from the Veteran Affairs Million Veteran Program (2011-). We identified characteristics and 1,809 ICD code-based phenotypes from the electronic health record. We used logistic regression to examine the association of age, sex, body mass index (BMI), race, and prevalent phenotypes to the stages of COVID-19 disease progression: infection, hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and 30-day mortality (separate models for each). Models were adjusted for age, sex, race, ethnicity, number of visit months and ICD codes, state infection rate and controlled for multiple testing using false discovery rate (≤0.1). As of August 10, 2020, 5,929 individuals were SARS-CoV-2 positive and among those, 1,463 (25%) were hospitalized, 579 (10%) were in ICU, and 398 (7%) died. We observed a lower risk in women vs. men for ICU and mortality (Odds Ratio (95% CI): 0.48 (0.30-0.76) and 0.59 (0.31-1.15), respectively) and a higher risk in Black vs. Other race patients for hospitalization and ICU (OR (95%CI): 1.53 (1.32-1.77) and 1.63 (1.32-2.02), respectively). We observed an increased risk of all COVID-19 disease states with older age and BMI ≥35 vs. 20-24 kg/m2. Renal failure, respiratory failure, morbid obesity, acid-base balance disorder, white blood cell diseases, hydronephrosis and bacterial infections were associated with an increased risk of ICU admissions; sepsis, chronic skin ulcers, acid-base balance disorder and acidosis were associated with mortality.

Conclusions: Older age, higher BMI, males and patients with a history of respiratory, kidney, bacterial or metabolic comorbidities experienced greater COVID-19 severity. Future studies to investigate the underlying mechanisms associated with these phenotype clusters and COVID-19 are warranted.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251651PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8118298PMC
May 2021

Cannabis use disorder, anger, and violence in Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans.

J Psychiatr Res 2021 06 22;138:375-379. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

Durham VA Health Care System, Durham, NC, USA; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA; VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Durham, NC, USA; VA Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham, NC, USA.

An association has been found between cannabis use disorder (CUD) and violence in several clinical populations, including veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and there is evidence that CUD has been increasing among veterans since September 11, 2001. There is also evidence that some veterans may be attempting to self-medicate psychological problems including PTSD and aggression with cannabis, despite the lack of safety and efficacy data supporting this use. To date, however, the association between CUD and aggression has yet to be examined in a large, non-clinic sample of veterans. The present study examined the association between cannabis use disorder, anger, aggressive urges, and difficulty controlling violence in a large sample of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans (N = 3028). Results of multivariate logistic regressions indicated that current CUD was significantly positively associated with difficulty managing anger (OR = 2.93, p < .05), aggressive impulses/urges (OR = 2.74, p < .05), and problems controlling violence in past 30 days (OR = 2.71, p < .05) even accounting for demographic variables, comorbid symptoms of depression and PTSD, and co-morbid alcohol and substance use disorders. Lifetime CUD was also uniquely associated with problems controlling violence in the past 30 days (OR = 1.64, p < .05), but was not significantly associated with difficulty managing anger or aggressive impulses/urges. Findings indicated that the association between CUD and aggression needs to be considered in treatment planning for both CUD and problems managing anger and aggressive urges, and point to a critical need to disentangle the mechanism of the association between CUD and violence in veterans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.04.018DOI Listing
June 2021

Cannabis use disorder, anger, and violence in Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans.

J Psychiatr Res 2021 06 22;138:375-379. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

Durham VA Health Care System, Durham, NC, USA; Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA; VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Durham, NC, USA; VA Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham, NC, USA.

An association has been found between cannabis use disorder (CUD) and violence in several clinical populations, including veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and there is evidence that CUD has been increasing among veterans since September 11, 2001. There is also evidence that some veterans may be attempting to self-medicate psychological problems including PTSD and aggression with cannabis, despite the lack of safety and efficacy data supporting this use. To date, however, the association between CUD and aggression has yet to be examined in a large, non-clinic sample of veterans. The present study examined the association between cannabis use disorder, anger, aggressive urges, and difficulty controlling violence in a large sample of Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans (N = 3028). Results of multivariate logistic regressions indicated that current CUD was significantly positively associated with difficulty managing anger (OR = 2.93, p < .05), aggressive impulses/urges (OR = 2.74, p < .05), and problems controlling violence in past 30 days (OR = 2.71, p < .05) even accounting for demographic variables, comorbid symptoms of depression and PTSD, and co-morbid alcohol and substance use disorders. Lifetime CUD was also uniquely associated with problems controlling violence in the past 30 days (OR = 1.64, p < .05), but was not significantly associated with difficulty managing anger or aggressive impulses/urges. Findings indicated that the association between CUD and aggression needs to be considered in treatment planning for both CUD and problems managing anger and aggressive urges, and point to a critical need to disentangle the mechanism of the association between CUD and violence in veterans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2021.04.018DOI Listing
June 2021

Actionable druggable genome-wide Mendelian randomization identifies repurposing opportunities for COVID-19.

Nat Med 2021 04 9;27(4):668-676. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.

Drug repurposing provides a rapid approach to meet the urgent need for therapeutics to address COVID-19. To identify therapeutic targets relevant to COVID-19, we conducted Mendelian randomization analyses, deriving genetic instruments based on transcriptomic and proteomic data for 1,263 actionable proteins that are targeted by approved drugs or in clinical phase of drug development. Using summary statistics from the Host Genetics Initiative and the Million Veteran Program, we studied 7,554 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and >1 million controls. We found significant Mendelian randomization results for three proteins (ACE2, P = 1.6 × 10; IFNAR2, P = 9.8 × 10 and IL-10RB, P = 2.3 × 10) using cis-expression quantitative trait loci genetic instruments that also had strong evidence for colocalization with COVID-19 hospitalization. To disentangle the shared expression quantitative trait loci signal for IL10RB and IFNAR2, we conducted phenome-wide association scans and pathway enrichment analysis, which suggested that IFNAR2 is more likely to play a role in COVID-19 hospitalization. Our findings prioritize trials of drugs targeting IFNAR2 and ACE2 for early management of COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01310-zDOI Listing
April 2021

Actionable druggable genome-wide Mendelian randomization identifies repurposing opportunities for COVID-19.

Nat Med 2021 04 9;27(4):668-676. Epub 2021 Apr 9.

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC), VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA.

Drug repurposing provides a rapid approach to meet the urgent need for therapeutics to address COVID-19. To identify therapeutic targets relevant to COVID-19, we conducted Mendelian randomization analyses, deriving genetic instruments based on transcriptomic and proteomic data for 1,263 actionable proteins that are targeted by approved drugs or in clinical phase of drug development. Using summary statistics from the Host Genetics Initiative and the Million Veteran Program, we studied 7,554 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and >1 million controls. We found significant Mendelian randomization results for three proteins (ACE2, P = 1.6 × 10; IFNAR2, P = 9.8 × 10 and IL-10RB, P = 2.3 × 10) using cis-expression quantitative trait loci genetic instruments that also had strong evidence for colocalization with COVID-19 hospitalization. To disentangle the shared expression quantitative trait loci signal for IL10RB and IFNAR2, we conducted phenome-wide association scans and pathway enrichment analysis, which suggested that IFNAR2 is more likely to play a role in COVID-19 hospitalization. Our findings prioritize trials of drugs targeting IFNAR2 and ACE2 for early management of COVID-19.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-021-01310-zDOI Listing
April 2021

Association of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Incident Ischemic Heart Disease in Women Veterans.

JAMA Cardiol 2021 Jun;6(6):642-651

Department of Psychology, UCLA.

Importance: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with greater risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD) in predominantly male populations or limited community samples. Women veterans represent a growing, yet understudied, population with high levels of trauma exposure and unique cardiovascular risks, but research on PTSD and IHD in this group is lacking.

Objective: To determine whether PTSD is associated with incident IHD in women veterans.

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this retrospective, longitudinal cohort study of the national Veterans Health Administration (VHA) electronic medical records, the a priori hypothesis that PTSD would be associated with greater risk of IHD onset was tested. Women veterans 18 years or older with and without PTSD who were patients in the VHA from January 1, 2000, to December 31, 2017, were assessed for study eligibility. Exclusion criteria consisted of no VHA clinical encounters after the index visit, IHD diagnosis at or before the index visit, and IHD diagnosis within 90 days of the index visit. Propensity score matching on age at index visit, number of prior visits, and presence of traditional and female-specific cardiovascular risk factors and mental and physical health conditions was conducted to identify women veterans ever diagnosed with PTSD, who were matched in a 1:2 ratio to those never diagnosed with PTSD. Data were analyzed from October 1, 2018, to October 30, 2020.

Exposures: PTSD, defined by International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9), or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), diagnosis codes from inpatient or outpatient encounters.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Incident IHD, defined as new-onset coronary artery disease, angina, or myocardial infarction, based on ICD-9 and ICD-10 diagnosis codes from inpatient or outpatient encounters, and/or coronary interventions based on Current Procedural Terminology codes.

Results: A total of 398 769 women veterans, 132 923 with PTSD and 265 846 never diagnosed with PTSD, were included in the analysis. Baseline mean (SD) age was 40.1 (12.2) years. During median follow-up of 4.9 (interquartile range, 2.1-9.2) years, 4381 women with PTSD (3.3%) and 5559 control individuals (2.1%) developed incident IHD. In a Cox proportional hazards model, PTSD was significantly associated with greater risk of developing IHD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.44; 95% CI, 1.38-1.50). Secondary stratified analyses indicated that younger age identified women veterans with PTSD who were at greater risk of incident IHD. Effect sizes were largest for those younger than 40 years at baseline (HR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.55-1.93) and decreased monotonically with increasing age (HR for ≥60 years, 1.24; 95% CI, 1.12-1.38).

Conclusions And Relevance: This cohort study found that PTSD was associated with increased risk of IHD in women veterans and may have implications for IHD risk assessment in vulnerable individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamacardio.2021.0227DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7970390PMC
June 2021

Self- and Other-Directed Violence as Outcomes of Deployment-Based Military Sexual Assault in Iraq/Afghanistan-era Veteran Men and Women.

J Aggress Maltreat Trauma 2020 Apr;29(6):714-724

Durham VA Healthcare System, 508 Fulton Street, Durham, NC 27705.

Although military sexual assault (MSA) has been well-established as a risk factor for psychopathology (e.g., PTSD, depression), little research has examined the association between MSA and self- and other-directed violence. Furthermore, there has been a growing empirical focus on potential gender differences in the effects of MSA, but few of these studies have examined gender differences in self- and other-directed violence. In a sample of 1571 Iraq/Afghanistan-era veterans (21.0% women), we examined the effect of MSA on difficulty controlling violent behavior and attempting suicide among veteran men and women, above and beyond the influence of childhood sexual abuse, combat trauma, PTSD, and major depressive disorder. Results of a logistic regression revealed that MSA increased risk of attempting suicide and difficulty controlling violence among women but not men. Thus, the results suggest that MSA may be a risk factor for both types of violence in women. Furthermore, because PTSD was associated with both types of violence in both men and women, MSA may also confer risk of violence PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10926771.2020.1725213DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7931250PMC
April 2020

Psychosocial well-being among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder.

Psychol Trauma 2021 Mar 4. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Durham VA Health Care System.

Objective: Concurrent posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder (PTSD/SUD) in U.S. military veterans represents an urgent public health issue associated with significant clinical challenges. Although previous research has shown that veterans with PTSD/SUD endorse more psychosocial risk factors and fewer protective factors than veterans with neither or only one of these disorders, no study has applied a comprehensive framework to characterize the vocational, financial, and social well-being of veterans with PTSD/SUD. Furthermore, it is not fully known how well-being among veterans with PTSD/SUD compares to that of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only, substance use disorder (SUD) only, or neither disorder.

Method: This cross-sectional observational study analyzed data from the National Post-Deployment Adjustment Survey, which recruited a random national sample of U.S. veterans who served on/after September 11, 2001. Participants (weighted N = 1,102) self-reported sociodemographic, clinical, and military background information in addition to aspects of their vocational, financial, and social well-being.

Results: Veterans with PTSD/SUD were particularly likely to report lifetime experiences of homelessness, violent behavior, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Veterans with PTSD/SUD reported worse social well-being than the PTSD-only, SUD-only, and neither-disorder groups. They also reported worse vocational and financial well-being than veterans with SUD only or with neither disorder but did not significantly differ from the PTSD-only group on vocational or financial well-being.

Conclusions: The findings underscore the importance of assessing multiple aspects of well-being in veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. The findings also point to promising treatment targets to improve psychosocial functioning and overall quality of life among veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0001018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8417144PMC
March 2021

Psychosocial well-being among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder.

Psychol Trauma 2021 Mar 4. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Durham VA Health Care System.

Objective: Concurrent posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder (PTSD/SUD) in U.S. military veterans represents an urgent public health issue associated with significant clinical challenges. Although previous research has shown that veterans with PTSD/SUD endorse more psychosocial risk factors and fewer protective factors than veterans with neither or only one of these disorders, no study has applied a comprehensive framework to characterize the vocational, financial, and social well-being of veterans with PTSD/SUD. Furthermore, it is not fully known how well-being among veterans with PTSD/SUD compares to that of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only, substance use disorder (SUD) only, or neither disorder.

Method: This cross-sectional observational study analyzed data from the National Post-Deployment Adjustment Survey, which recruited a random national sample of U.S. veterans who served on/after September 11, 2001. Participants (weighted N = 1,102) self-reported sociodemographic, clinical, and military background information in addition to aspects of their vocational, financial, and social well-being.

Results: Veterans with PTSD/SUD were particularly likely to report lifetime experiences of homelessness, violent behavior, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Veterans with PTSD/SUD reported worse social well-being than the PTSD-only, SUD-only, and neither-disorder groups. They also reported worse vocational and financial well-being than veterans with SUD only or with neither disorder but did not significantly differ from the PTSD-only group on vocational or financial well-being.

Conclusions: The findings underscore the importance of assessing multiple aspects of well-being in veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. The findings also point to promising treatment targets to improve psychosocial functioning and overall quality of life among veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0001018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8417144PMC
March 2021

Psychosocial well-being among veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder.

Psychol Trauma 2021 Mar 4. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Durham VA Health Care System.

Objective: Concurrent posttraumatic stress disorder and substance use disorder (PTSD/SUD) in U.S. military veterans represents an urgent public health issue associated with significant clinical challenges. Although previous research has shown that veterans with PTSD/SUD endorse more psychosocial risk factors and fewer protective factors than veterans with neither or only one of these disorders, no study has applied a comprehensive framework to characterize the vocational, financial, and social well-being of veterans with PTSD/SUD. Furthermore, it is not fully known how well-being among veterans with PTSD/SUD compares to that of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only, substance use disorder (SUD) only, or neither disorder.

Method: This cross-sectional observational study analyzed data from the National Post-Deployment Adjustment Survey, which recruited a random national sample of U.S. veterans who served on/after September 11, 2001. Participants (weighted N = 1,102) self-reported sociodemographic, clinical, and military background information in addition to aspects of their vocational, financial, and social well-being.

Results: Veterans with PTSD/SUD were particularly likely to report lifetime experiences of homelessness, violent behavior, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. Veterans with PTSD/SUD reported worse social well-being than the PTSD-only, SUD-only, and neither-disorder groups. They also reported worse vocational and financial well-being than veterans with SUD only or with neither disorder but did not significantly differ from the PTSD-only group on vocational or financial well-being.

Conclusions: The findings underscore the importance of assessing multiple aspects of well-being in veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. The findings also point to promising treatment targets to improve psychosocial functioning and overall quality of life among veterans with PTSD and/or SUD. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0001018DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8417144PMC
March 2021

The effect of reducing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms on cardiovascular risk: Design and methodology of a randomized clinical trial.

Contemp Clin Trials 2021 03 8;102:106269. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with accelerated progression of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the underlying pathophysiological pathway has remained elusive and it is unclear whether there is a direct link between PTSD and CHD risk. This paper describes the methods of a randomized controlled trial developed to examine how changes in PTSD symptoms affect CHD disease pathways. One hundred twenty participants with current PTSD and who are free of known CHD will be randomized to receive either an evidence-based treatment for PTSD (Cognitive Processing Therapy; CPT) or a waitlist control (WL). Before and after CPT/WL, participants undergo assessment of CHD risk biomarkers reflecting autonomic nervous system dysregulation, systemic inflammation, and vascular endothelial dysfunction. The primary hypothesis is that individuals who show improvement in PTSD symptoms will show improvement in CHD risk biomarkers, whereas individuals who fail to improve or show worsening PTSD symptoms will have no change or worsening in CHD biomarkers. This study is expected to provide knowledge of the role of both the direct impact of PTSD symptoms on CHD risk pathways and the role of these systems as candidate mechanisms underlying the relationship between PTSD and CHD risk. Further, results will provide guidance on the utility of cognitive therapy as a tool to mitigate the accelerated progression of CHD in PTSD. Clinical Trials Registration: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02736929; Unique identifier: NCT02736929.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2021.106269DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8009821PMC
March 2021

The effect of reducing posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms on cardiovascular risk: Design and methodology of a randomized clinical trial.

Contemp Clin Trials 2021 03 8;102:106269. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA. Electronic address:

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with accelerated progression of coronary heart disease (CHD). However, the underlying pathophysiological pathway has remained elusive and it is unclear whether there is a direct link between PTSD and CHD risk. This paper describes the methods of a randomized controlled trial developed to examine how changes in PTSD symptoms affect CHD disease pathways. One hundred twenty participants with current PTSD and who are free of known CHD will be randomized to receive either an evidence-based treatment for PTSD (Cognitive Processing Therapy; CPT) or a waitlist control (WL). Before and after CPT/WL, participants undergo assessment of CHD risk biomarkers reflecting autonomic nervous system dysregulation, systemic inflammation, and vascular endothelial dysfunction. The primary hypothesis is that individuals who show improvement in PTSD symptoms will show improvement in CHD risk biomarkers, whereas individuals who fail to improve or show worsening PTSD symptoms will have no change or worsening in CHD biomarkers. This study is expected to provide knowledge of the role of both the direct impact of PTSD symptoms on CHD risk pathways and the role of these systems as candidate mechanisms underlying the relationship between PTSD and CHD risk. Further, results will provide guidance on the utility of cognitive therapy as a tool to mitigate the accelerated progression of CHD in PTSD. Clinical Trials Registration: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02736929; Unique identifier: NCT02736929.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2021.106269DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8009821PMC
March 2021

Tobacco Withdrawal Symptoms Before and After Nicotine Deprivation in Veteran Smokers with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and with Major Depressive Disorder.

Nicotine Tob Res 2021 06;23(7):1239-1247

William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison, WI.

Introduction: The high smoking prevalence amongst individuals with psychiatric disorders constitutes a major public health disparity. Negative reinforcement models of addiction posit that severe tobacco withdrawal symptoms, related to the affective vulnerabilities of these smokers, may thwart their quitting smoking successfully. However, relatively few studies have prospectively examined the effects of nicotine deprivation on withdrawal symptoms in these groups.

Methods: This study compared the level of withdrawal symptoms both before and after nicotine deprivation in those diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive disorder (MDD) and in those without psychiatric diagnoses. Participants were US veterans who smoked (≥10 cigarettes/day) and met diagnostic criteria for PTSD (n = 38), MDD (n = 43), or no psychiatric diagnosis ("controls" n = 44). Participants attended study visits before and during 48-hour nicotine deprivation to report tobacco withdrawal symptoms. Analyses evaluated withdrawal symptom levels (baseline and during nicotine deprivation) and the change in symptoms related to nicotine deprivation and compared (1) participants with a psychiatric diagnosis versus controls, and (2) participants with PTSD versus MDD.

Results: Contrary to hypotheses, nicotine deprivation produced greater increases in most withdrawal symptoms amongst controls than in those with psychiatric diagnoses. Compared with controls, those with PTSD or MDD reported elevated symptom levels both before and after tobacco deprivation for most withdrawal symptoms.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that chronically high levels of distress and craving, rather than acute increases in withdrawal symptoms because of nicotine deprivation, may account for the quitting difficulties of those with comorbid conditions such as PTSD and MDD.

Implications: Severe tobacco withdrawal may account for the higher quitting difficulties of smokers with either posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or major depressive disorder (MDD). Paradoxically, this study showed that individuals with no psychiatric diagnosis had greater increases in tobacco withdrawal severity because of nicotine deprivation than did those with either PTSD or MDD. Those with either PTSD or MDD showed high stable levels of withdrawal symptom severity both before and during two days of abstinence, suggesting that their quitting difficulties may be related to their chronically high levels of distress rather than nicotine deprivation per se.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8186424PMC
June 2021

Epigenome-wide meta-analysis of PTSD across 10 military and civilian cohorts identifies methylation changes in AHRR.

Nat Commun 2020 11 24;11(1):5965. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Brown University, Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Department of Pediatric Research, Providence, RI, USA.

Epigenetic differences may help to distinguish between PTSD cases and trauma-exposed controls. Here, we describe the results of the largest DNA methylation meta-analysis of PTSD to date. Ten cohorts, military and civilian, contribute blood-derived DNA methylation data from 1,896 PTSD cases and trauma-exposed controls. Four CpG sites within the aryl-hydrocarbon receptor repressor (AHRR) associate with PTSD after adjustment for multiple comparisons, with lower DNA methylation in PTSD cases relative to controls. Although AHRR methylation is known to associate with smoking, the AHRR association with PTSD is most pronounced in non-smokers, suggesting the result was independent of smoking status. Evaluation of metabolomics data reveals that AHRR methylation associated with kynurenine levels, which are lower among subjects with PTSD. This study supports epigenetic differences in those with PTSD and suggests a role for decreased kynurenine as a contributor to immune dysregulation in PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19615-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7686485PMC
November 2020

Genetic predictors of hippocampal subfield volume in PTSD cases and trauma-exposed controls.

Eur J Psychotraumatol 2020 Jul 29;11(1):1785994. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

VA Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center, Durham VAMC, Durham, NC, USA.

Behavioural, structural, and functional neuroimaging have implicated the hippocampus as a critical brain region in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) pathogenesis. Recent work in a normative, primarily European, sample identified 15 unique genetic loci contributing to structural variability in six hippocampal subfield volumes. We explored the relevance of these loci in two samples (Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Centre [MIRECC] and Grady; = 290) of trauma-exposed individuals enriched for PTSD and of diverse ancestry. Four of the previous loci demonstrated nominal evidence of replication in the MIRECC dataset, primarily within non-Hispanic whites (NHW). One locus replicated in the Grady cohort, which was composed exclusively of non-Hispanic blacks (NHB). Our data supported genetic interactions with diagnosis of lifetime PTSD and genetic interactions with childhood trauma in the MIRECC sample, but not the Grady sample. Given the racial, diagnostic, and trauma-exposure differences with the original genome-wide association study (GWAS) report, we conducted a full GWAS in the MIRECC and Grady datasets. Interactions between genetic variants and lifetime PTSD or childhood trauma were interrogated for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with evidence of main effects. Genetic associations surpassed false discovery rate (FDR)-correction within hippocampal subfields in fimbria, subiculum, cornu ammonis-1 (CA1), and hippocampal amygdala transition area (HATA). One association was replicated in the Grady cohort (rs12880795 in with left (L)-HATA volume). The most significant association in the MIRECC dataset was between rs6906714 in and right (R)-fimbria volume ( = 5.99×10, = 0.0056). Interestingly, the effect of rs6906714 on R-fimbria volume increased with exposure to childhood trauma (gene*environment [G*E] interaction = 0.022). These preliminary results argue for G*E interactions between genetic loci with PTSD and childhood trauma on hippocampal phenotypes. Our results underscore the need for larger neuroimaging-genetic studies in PTSD, trauma, and ancestrally diverse populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2020.1785994DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7473168PMC
July 2020

Real-World Utilization and Outcomes of the Veterans Health Administration's Smoking Cessation Text Message Program.

Nicotine Tob Res 2021 05;23(6):931-938

Veterans Health Administration, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Washington, DC.

Introduction: Smoking cessation mobile health (mHealth) programs are effective and have been recommended for integration into health care services but have not been evaluated in real-world health care settings. The Veterans Health Administration, a safety net health care provider, provides health care for 9 million US military veterans. Veterans Health Administration implemented the SmokefreeVET text message program in 2013.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation of 6153 SmokefreeVET subscribers was conducted. The primary outcome was 30-day self-reported abstinence at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included percentage of opt outs, program completers, and 30-day self-reported abstinence at 3 months.

Results: SmokefreeVET subscribers were on average 47.5 years old and 71.4% male. Smoking cessation medication use was reported by 11.5% of subscribers at the start of their quit attempt and subscribers enrolled in the program for an average of 29 days. Subscribers who were younger, female, and heavier smokers were more likely to opt out of the six-week program early. The abstinence rate for the primary outcome, self-reported 30-day abstinence at 6 months among all subscribers was 3.7%.

Conclusions: SmokefreeVET enrolled a younger and more female population of subscribers than other studies of veterans interested in tobacco treatment. The mHealth program was generally acceptable to veterans, yet strategies to increase retention may improve completion rates and outcomes. In this real-world setting, nearly half of the mHealth program subscribers combined use of the text program with smoking cessation medication. Further study of the optimal combination of mHealth with smoking cessation treatments is needed.

Implications: mHealth smoking cessation programs can be effectively implemented within real-world health care settings, even in those serving disadvantaged populations. Further research to improve mHealth program efficacy and integration into clinical settings will increase the population-level impact of these effective smoking cessation programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa183DOI Listing
May 2021

Real-World Utilization and Outcomes of the Veterans Health Administration's Smoking Cessation Text Message Program.

Nicotine Tob Res 2021 05;23(6):931-938

Veterans Health Administration, Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Washington, DC.

Introduction: Smoking cessation mobile health (mHealth) programs are effective and have been recommended for integration into health care services but have not been evaluated in real-world health care settings. The Veterans Health Administration, a safety net health care provider, provides health care for 9 million US military veterans. Veterans Health Administration implemented the SmokefreeVET text message program in 2013.

Methods: A retrospective evaluation of 6153 SmokefreeVET subscribers was conducted. The primary outcome was 30-day self-reported abstinence at 6 months. Secondary outcomes included percentage of opt outs, program completers, and 30-day self-reported abstinence at 3 months.

Results: SmokefreeVET subscribers were on average 47.5 years old and 71.4% male. Smoking cessation medication use was reported by 11.5% of subscribers at the start of their quit attempt and subscribers enrolled in the program for an average of 29 days. Subscribers who were younger, female, and heavier smokers were more likely to opt out of the six-week program early. The abstinence rate for the primary outcome, self-reported 30-day abstinence at 6 months among all subscribers was 3.7%.

Conclusions: SmokefreeVET enrolled a younger and more female population of subscribers than other studies of veterans interested in tobacco treatment. The mHealth program was generally acceptable to veterans, yet strategies to increase retention may improve completion rates and outcomes. In this real-world setting, nearly half of the mHealth program subscribers combined use of the text program with smoking cessation medication. Further study of the optimal combination of mHealth with smoking cessation treatments is needed.

Implications: mHealth smoking cessation programs can be effectively implemented within real-world health care settings, even in those serving disadvantaged populations. Further research to improve mHealth program efficacy and integration into clinical settings will increase the population-level impact of these effective smoking cessation programs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ntr/ntaa183DOI Listing
May 2021

Treatment Outcomes of a Multi-Component Mobile Health Smoking Cessation Pilot Intervention for People with Schizophrenia.

J Dual Diagn 2020 10 31;16(4):420-428. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of a multi-component mobile contingency management (CM) pilot intervention for smoking cessation for people with schizophrenia. This intervention included mobile CM (i.e., monetary compensation for bioverification of abstinence through using a phone app), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation. This intervention was compared to an intensive treatment comparison (ITC), which contained all components except the CM. Participants were bioverified with carbon monoxide and saliva cotinine at a 6-month follow-up session. In this pilot, the treatment group did not differ from the ITC at any time point. However, measures of treatment feasibility and acceptability indicated that smokers with schizophrenia were able to navigate the CM phone application and adhere to the protocol, demonstrating the potential utility of mobile interventions in this population. Despite lack of long-term abstinence for participants, adherence to the mobile application intervention indicates the potential for future investigation of mobile smoking cessation treatments for people with schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15504263.2020.1797259DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8356481PMC
October 2020

Treatment Outcomes of a Multi-Component Mobile Health Smoking Cessation Pilot Intervention for People with Schizophrenia.

J Dual Diagn 2020 10 31;16(4):420-428. Epub 2020 Jul 31.

Durham Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate the feasibility and acceptability of a multi-component mobile contingency management (CM) pilot intervention for smoking cessation for people with schizophrenia. This intervention included mobile CM (i.e., monetary compensation for bioverification of abstinence through using a phone app), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation. This intervention was compared to an intensive treatment comparison (ITC), which contained all components except the CM. Participants were bioverified with carbon monoxide and saliva cotinine at a 6-month follow-up session. In this pilot, the treatment group did not differ from the ITC at any time point. However, measures of treatment feasibility and acceptability indicated that smokers with schizophrenia were able to navigate the CM phone application and adhere to the protocol, demonstrating the potential utility of mobile interventions in this population. Despite lack of long-term abstinence for participants, adherence to the mobile application intervention indicates the potential for future investigation of mobile smoking cessation treatments for people with schizophrenia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15504263.2020.1797259DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8356481PMC
October 2020
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