Adapting coordinated anxiety learning and management for veterans affairs community-based outpatient clinics: Iterative approach

Traci H. Abraham, Kathy Marchant-Miros, Michael B. McCarther, Michelle G. Craske, Geoffrey M. Curran, Lisa K. Kearney, Carolyn Greene, Jan A. Lindsay, Michael A. Cucciare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: A national priority at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is to increase the availability and accessibility of evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) across all VA medical facilities. Yet many veterans, particularly those who use remote outpatient VA clinics, still do not receive much needed evidence-based treatment. Strategies are needed for supporting mental health providers at rural VA community-based outpatient clinics (CBOCs) as they translate their clinical training to routine practice. The Coordinated Anxiety Learning Management (CALM) program is a computer-delivered program that supports the delivery of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) by providers in outpatient settings to patients with depression and anxiety, including posttraumatic stress disorder. Objective: The objectives of our study were to (1) adapt an existing computer-based program to rural VA CBOCs through feedback from key stakeholder focus groups; (2) develop a prototype of the adapted program; and (3) determine the adapted program's acceptability and feasibility. Mental health stakeholders included VA leaders (n=4) in the implementation of EBPs, VA experts (n=4) in CBT, VA CBOC mental health providers (n=8), and veterans (n=8) diagnosed with a mental health condition treated using the CALM program and receiving treatment in a VA CBOC. Methods: An iterative approach comprising 3 waves of focus group discussions was used to develop a modified prototype of CALM. Following each wave of focus group discussions, template analysis was used to rapidly communicate stakeholder recommendations and feedback to the design team. The original program was first adapted through a process of data collection, design modification, and product development. Next, a prototype was developed. Finally, the redesigned program was tested for acceptability and feasibility through a live demonstration. Results: Key stakeholders suggested modifications to the original CALM program that altered its modules' appearance by incorporating veteran-centric content. These modifications likely have no impact on the integrity of the original CALM program, but have altered its content to reflect better the demographic characteristics and experiences of rural veterans. Feedback from stakeholder groups indicates that changes will help VA patients identify with the program content, potentially enhancing their treatment engagement. Conclusions: The development model was effective for economically gathering actionable recommendations from stakeholders to adapt a computer-based program, and it can result in the development of an acceptable and feasible computer-delivered intervention. Results have implications for developing computer-based programs targeting behavior change more broadly and enhancing engagement in EBP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere10277
JournalJMIR Mental Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Therapy
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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