PTSD Coach is an app developed for service members (active or retired) who think they may be struggling with symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Created jointly by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense, PTSD Coach offers multiple features for addressing reactions to trauma. It provides information about PTSD, a checklist to help with diagnosis, skills for managing symptoms, and resources for obtaining support. It also let users track their symptoms over time. PTSD Coach is designed to be a helpful adjunct to treatment with a professional, and can be an aid to making healthier decisions while living with PTSD.
Available for: Computers (PCs and Macs) and mobile devices
Company: US Department of Veterans Affairs
Classification: Cognitive Behavioral Principles, Symptom Tracker
Targeted conditions: PTSD
Target demographic: Adults (particularly military service members)
Special provider necessary: No, but highly recommended
Non-English Language versions available: Yes (Canadian French)
Where to get it:
Expert ratings and reviews
PsyberGuide rating: The research and support basis of the product
Total score: 13/14
Basis of research: 2/3
Source of funding for the research: 2/2
Specificity of proposed intervention: 3/3
Number of consumer ratings: 3/3
Product advisory support: 1/1
Software support: 2/2
date of rating: May 2017
Quality scores range from 1 to 5, where 5 is the maximum score
Objective quality score: 3.90
Subjective quality score: 2.50
Perceived impact score: 3.08
Rated by: Queensland University
Date of rating: August 2016
Research on the product
PTSD Coach has been evaluated in several research studies supporting its feasibility in several veteran populations including in its use along with a provider as well as self-management. These studies have demonstrated promising feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of PTSD Coach to reduce symptoms of PTSD and that people find it easy to use and useful. Limitations of the current research include the lack of rigorous control conditions (e.g., active comparison or placebo control) and small sample sizes compared to the large number of people who have downloaded PTSD Coach.
Kuhn, E., Greene, C., Hoffman, J., Nguyen, T., Wald, L., Schmidt, J., … & Ruzek, J. (2014). Preliminary evaluation of PTSD Coach, a smartphone app for post-traumatic stress symptoms. Military medicine, 179(1), 12-18.
• “Almost 90% of the sample endorsed being moderately to extremely satisfied with the app. Likewise, the majority of participants (i.e., 68–91%) endorsed that the app was moderately to extremely helpful achieving its intended purposes (e.g., learning about PTSD symptoms, finding effective ways to manage symptoms).”
Miner, A., Kuhn, E., Hoffman, J. E., Owen, J. E., Ruzek, J. I., & Taylor, C. B. (2016). Feasibility, acceptability, and potential efficacy of the PTSD Coach app: A pilot randomized controlled trial with community trauma survivors. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 8(3), 384.
• “Our findings suggest that PTSD Coach is a feasible intervention for this group, with participants reporting using the app multiple times per week to learn about PTSD, self-manage symptoms, and engage in symptom self-monitoring. Participants also reported using the app throughout the day (including times outside of typical clinic hours) across multiple contexts and endorsed few barriers to use. Likewise, there was clear support for the acceptability of PTSD Coach.”
Possemato, K., Kuhn, E., Johnson, E. M., Hoffman, J. E., & Brooks, E. (2016). Development and refinement of a clinician intervention to facilitate primary care patient use of the PTSD Coach app. Translational behavioral medicine, 1-11.
• “Results indicated that CS-PTSD Coach was a good match to patient needs and resources and to the primary care setting. In addition, primary care medical and mental health professionals, as well as veterans, had favorable experiences with CS-PTSD Coach […] Overall, these findings suggest that a brief PC-MHI intervention that combines clinician support with a mobile app is highly acceptable to VA staff stakeholders responsible for primary care and mental health leadership, PC-MHI clinicians who delivered the intervention, and veterans with PTSD who received the intervention.”
Kuhn, E., Kanuri, N., Hoffman, J. E., Garvert, D. W., Ruzek, J. I., & Taylor, C. B. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of a smartphone app for posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 85(3), 267.
• “PTSD Coach use resulted in significantly greater improvements in PTSD symptoms and other outcomes relative to a waitlist condition. Given the ubiquity of smartphones, PTSD Coach may provide a wide-reaching, convenient public health intervention for individuals with PTSD symptoms who are not receiving care.”