Prolonged exposure therapy for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: An examination of treatment effectiveness for veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, United States
Journal of anxiety disorders (Impact Factor: 2.68). 11/2010; 25(3):397-403. DOI: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.11.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The Veteran's Health Administration (VHA) has launched a large-scale initiative to promote prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, an evidence-based treatment for PTSD. While existing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) unambiguously support the efficacy of PE in civilian and some military populations, there is a need to better understand the course of treatment for combat Veterans of the current wars receiving PE in normative mental healthcare settings. The current study investigates 65 Veterans receiving care at an urban VA medical center. All Veterans were diagnosed with PTSD via a structured interview and treated with PE. Measures of PTSD and depression were collected pre- and post-treatment and every two sessions during treatment. Dependent means t-tests were used to estimate pre- and post-treatment d-type effect sizes. Additionally, hierarchical linear models (HLM) were used to investigate treatment effects over time, relationships between patient characteristics and outcomes, and to provide estimates of R(2)-type effect sizes. Results indicate that PE in regular VA mental healthcare contexts can be as effective as when implemented in carefully conducted RCTs.

  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Prolonged exposure (PE) is an effective psychological treatment for patients who suffer from PTSD. The majority of PTSD patients have comorbid psychiatric disorders, and some clinicians are hesitant to use PE with comorbid patients because they believe that comorbid conditions may worsen during PE. In this article, we reviewed the evidence for this question: what are the effects of PE on comorbid symptoms and associated symptomatic features? We reviewed findings from 18 randomized controlled trials of PE that assessed the most common comorbid conditions (major depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, personality disorders, and psychotic disorders) and additional symptomatic features (suicidality, dissociation, negative cognitions, negative emotions, and general health and work/social functioning). Although systematic research is not available for all comorbid populations, the existing research indicates that comorbid disorders and additional symptomatic features either decline along with the PTSD symptoms or do not change as a result of PE. Therefore, among the populations that have been studied to date, there is no empirical basis for excluding PTSD patients from PE due to fear of increases in comorbid conditions or additional symptomatic features. Limitations of the existing research and recommendations for future research are also discussed.
    Current Psychiatry Reports 03/2015; 17(3):549. DOI:10.1007/s11920-015-0549-1 · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Several psychotherapies have been established as effective treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and cognitive therapy for PTSD. Understanding the key mechanisms of these treatments, i.e., how these treatments lead to therapeutic benefits, will enable us to maximize the efficacy, effectiveness, and efficiency of these therapies. This article provides an overview of the theorized mechanisms for each of these treatments, reviews the recent empirical evidence on psychological mechanisms of these treatments, discusses the ongoing debates in the field, and provides recommendations for future research. Few studies to date have examined whether changes in purported treatment mechanisms predict subsequent changes in treatment outcomes. Future clinical trials examining treatments for PTSD should use study designs that enable researchers to establish the temporal precedence of change in treatment mechanisms prior to symptom reduction. Moreover, further research is needed that explores the links between specific treatment components, underlying change mechanisms, and treatment outcomes.
    Current Psychiatry Reports 04/2015; 17(4):560. DOI:10.1007/s11920-015-0560-6 · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Traumatology 01/2015; 21(1):7-13. DOI:10.1037/trm0000014