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Early Intervention May Prevent the Development of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Pilot Civilian Study with Modified Prolonged Exposure

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia.
Biological psychiatry (Impact Factor: 9.47). 07/2012; 72(11). DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.06.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT BACKGROUND: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a major public health concern with long-term sequelae. There are no accepted interventions delivered in the immediate aftermath of trauma. This study tested an early intervention aimed at modifying the memory to prevent the development of PTSD before memory consolidation. METHODS: Patients (n = 137) were randomly assigned to receive three sessions of an early intervention beginning in the emergency department compared with an assessment only control group. Posttraumatic stress reactions (PTSR) were assessed at 4 and 12 weeks postinjury and depression at baseline and week 4. The intervention consisted of modified prolonged exposure including imaginal exposure to the trauma memory, processing of traumatic material, and in vivo and imaginal exposure homework. RESULTS: Patients were assessed an average of 11.79 hours posttrauma. Intervention participants reported significantly lower PTSR than the assessment group at 4 weeks postinjury, p < .01, and at 12 weeks postinjury, p < .05, and significantly lower depressive symptoms at week 4 than the assessment group, p < .05. In a subgroup analysis, the intervention was the most effective at reducing PTSD in rape victims at week 4 (p = .004) and week 12 (p = .05). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the modified prolonged exposure intervention initiated within hours of the trauma in the emergency department is successful at reducing PTSR and depression symptoms 1 and 3 months after trauma exposure and is safe and feasible. This is the first behavioral intervention delivered immediately posttrauma that has been shown to be effective at reducing PTSR.

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Available from: Kerry Ressler, Sep 16, 2014
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    • "Although many experience steady emotional recovery, a sizable percentage of these individuals (15–25%) will continue to report symptoms and eventually meet formal diagnostic criteria for PTSD (Riggs et al., 1995; Rothbaum et al., 1992). Fortunately, treatment for PTSD is highly effective for most (85%) patients (Powers, Halpern, Ferenschak, Gillihan, & Foa, 2010) and there are now pilot data showing that acute intervention may also prevent chronic PTSD (PTSD for ≥3 months) (Rothbaum et al., 2012). However, delivering interventions to all trauma survivors is not cost-effective, considering that many individuals recover without intervention (Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, & Nelson, 1995; Riggs et al., 1995; Rothbaum et al., 1992), and for some, early intervention interferes with natural recovery (van Emmerik, Kamphuis, Hulsbosch, & Emmelkamp, 2002). "
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    ABSTRACT: Trauma centers are an ideal point of intervention in efforts to prevent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In order to assist in the development of prevention efforts, this study sought to identify early predictors of PTSD symptoms among adults admitted to a Level I trauma center using a novel analytic strategy (Fournier et al., 2009). Upon admission, participants (N=327) were screened for PTSD symptoms and provided information on potential predictor variables. Their PTSD symptoms were assessed again 3 months later (N=227). Participants were classified as symptomatic (positive PTSD screen) or asymptomatic (negative PTSD screen) at the follow-up assessment. Multinomial logistic regression showed that age, depression, number of premorbid psychiatric disorders, gunshot wound, auto vs. pedestrian injury, and alcohol use predicted who had PTSD symptoms at FU with 76.3% accuracy. However, when controlling for PTSD severity at baseline, only age, number of premorbid psychiatric disorders, and gunshot wounds predicted PTSD symptoms at FU but with 78.5% accuracy. These findings suggest that psychological prevention efforts in trauma centers may be best directed toward adults who are young, have premorbid psychiatric disorders, and those admitted with gunshot wounds.
    Journal of anxiety disorders 02/2014; 28(3):301-309. DOI:10.1016/j.janxdis.2014.01.003 · 2.68 Impact Factor
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    • "Received 24 June 2013; revised 9 January 2014; accepted 10 January 2014; accepted article preview online 14 February 2014 (Medicine, 2012), Department of Defense (2012a) and the NIMH (2008). The ability to identify persons at high risk of developing PTSD would enable providers to target evidence-based interventions to high risk groups (Rothbaum et al, 2012; Shalev et al, 2012). The identification of robust predictive biomarkers may also improve our understanding of the pathophysiology of PTSD and lead to more effective pharmacological interventions. "
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    Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology 02/2014; 39(8). DOI:10.1038/npp.2014.34 · 7.83 Impact Factor
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    • "variability in outcomes, however, highlights a need to identify predictors of response in order to target treatment to those at greatest risk and those most likely to benefit (Kearns, Ressler, Zatzick, & Rothbaum, 2012). The present study evaluated several variables theorized to predict response to an early intervention due to their enhancement of fear acquisition after a trauma (Craske et al., 2008). "
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