Article

A Naturalistic Study Exploring Mental Health Outcomes Following Trauma-Focused Treatment Among Diverse Survivors of Crime and Violence

Article

A Naturalistic Study Exploring Mental Health Outcomes Following Trauma-Focused Treatment Among Diverse Survivors of Crime and Violence

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Abstract

Background: Although considerable research has tested evidence-based practices in clinical trials, research is needed on the use of trauma-focused treatments by victims of crime and violence in naturalistic settings. This study investigated four trauma-focused treatments, prolonged exposure therapy (PE), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eclectic therapy, and person-centered therapy (PCT), and assessed treatment dropout and symptom improvement over five assessment time-points. Methods: Descriptive comparisons and pattern mixture multigroup growth models were used to assess differences between treatments on time in treatment, rate of dropout, and improvement in posttraumatic stress (PTSD) and depression symptoms in an outpatient sample of 526 clients seeking routine clinical care. Results: PCT was significantly associated with the highest number of therapy sessions completed and the lowest rate of dropout (41.75%) compared to CBT and eclectic treatments. All treatment groups reported PTSD symptom improvement with no significant differences based on therapy type. For depression, the rate of improvement for clients in PCT who dropped out of treatment after session 3 was significantly steeper than the rate of improvement for clients in eclectic treatment who dropped out of treatment after session 3. Clients who stayed in treatment longer generally had larger decreases in symptoms compared to those who dropped out earlier. Limitations: The small sample size in each of the treatment groups may have limited power to detect change. Conclusions: Several trauma-focused treatments offered in a community-based setting may result in significant symptomatic improvement.

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... For Latinos, the cultural norm of emphasizing family well-being, or familismo, over individual well-being might lead women to keep sexual assault experiences a secret in an effort to protect the family (Low and Organista 2001). Once Latinos seek mental health services, however, some studies have found that they are more likely to stay in treatment and benefit from treatment (Ghafoori et al. 2019;Ghafoori and Khoo 2020). ...
... The CBT-oriented therapies utilized a treatment manual. All treatments were delivered in up to twelve weekly sixty-to ninety-minute sessions; however, the current study only focused on the assessments up to the six-week time frame since the average number of sessions clients attend at the clinic is six sessions (Ghafoori et al. 2019). PE (Foe et al. 2007) included the following elements: psychoeducation about common reactions to trauma; breathing retraining; repeated imaginal exposure to the most distressing memory of the trauma during the therapy session; processing or discussing the content of the imaginal exposure during session; and repeated in-vivo exposure to a list of avoided people, places, or situations. ...
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... While strong empirical evidence supports the use of PE for PTSD, therapists often choose to offer supportive therapies for PTSD at community mental health centers (Ghafoori et al. 2017;Pingitore et al. 2001). Research suggests some reasons therapists may offer supportive therapies rather than evidence-based therapies for PTSD may include the fact that supportive therapies require little training and no adherence to a particular treatment protocol or structure (Barker-Collo and Read 2003;Ghafoori et al. 2019). Present centered therapy (PCT), a type of supportive therapy, is a trauma-focused therapy that is widely offered to patients in community based mental health centers for PTSD (Pingitore et al. 2001;Ghafoori et al. 2019). ...
... Research suggests some reasons therapists may offer supportive therapies rather than evidence-based therapies for PTSD may include the fact that supportive therapies require little training and no adherence to a particular treatment protocol or structure (Barker-Collo and Read 2003;Ghafoori et al. 2019). Present centered therapy (PCT), a type of supportive therapy, is a trauma-focused therapy that is widely offered to patients in community based mental health centers for PTSD (Pingitore et al. 2001;Ghafoori et al. 2019). Present centered therapy for PTSD includes psychoeducation about PTSD symptoms and assistance to patients in identifying current life problems and discussing them in a supportive, non-directive mode. ...
... Present centered therapy for PTSD includes psychoeducation about PTSD symptoms and assistance to patients in identifying current life problems and discussing them in a supportive, non-directive mode. Although some research suggests PCT may result in decreased PTSD symptoms (Ghafoori et al. 2019;Schnurr et al. 2007), other studies have found that PCT is less effective than trauma-focused cognitive behavioral treatments (Bisson et al. 2007). ...
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Book
The experience of traumatic events is a near-universal, albeit unfortunate, part of the human experience. Given how many individuals are exposed to trauma, it is interesting to question why some individuals are resilient in the face of trauma while others go on to develop chronic post-traumatic stress. Throughout the relatively brief history of the psychological study of trauma, a number of themes have consistently emerged. Many of these themes remain essential elements within the current study of traumatic stress disorders, as summarized within this volume, which addresses the current landscape of research and clinical knowledge surrounding traumatic stress disorders. Bringing together a group of experts, the volume is divided into six sections, together summarizing the current state of knowledge about: classification and phenomenology; epidemiology and special populations; contributions from theory; assessment; prevention and early intervention efforts; and treatment of individuals with post-trauma mental health symptoms. Throughout the volume, attention is paid to identifying current controversies in the literature and highlighting directions that hold promise for future work.
Article
Trauma-focused treatments are underutilized, partially due to clinician concerns that they will cause symptom exacerbation or dropout. We examined a sample of women undergoing Prolonged Exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and a version of CPT (CPT-C) without a written trauma narrative to investigate the possibility of symptom exacerbation. Participants (n = 192) were drawn from two RCT's. Participants were administered self-report measures of PTSD symptoms (i.e., the PTSD Symptom Scale or Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale [PSS/PDS]) and the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale. Exacerbations were defined as increases greater than 6.15 points on the PSS/PDS. A minority of participants experienced PTSD exacerbations during treatment, and there were no significant differences across treatment type (28.6% in CPT, 20.0% in PE, and 14.7% in CPT-C). Neither diagnostic nor trauma-related factors at pre-treatment predicted symptom exacerbations. Those who experienced exacerbations had higher post-treatment PSS/PDS scores and were more likely to retain a PTSD diagnosis (both small but statistically significant effects). However, even those who experienced an exacerbation experienced clinically significant improvement by end of treatment. Further, symptom exacerbations were not related to treatment non-completion. These results indicate that trauma-focused treatments are safe and effective, even for the minority of individuals who experience temporary symptom increases.
Article
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) has been recognized by the Institute of Medicine (2007) as one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. This chapter provides a brief overview of the CPT session content, the underlying mechanisms of the therapy, a review of the empirically based literature outlining the treatment effectiveness, limitations of the therapy, and areas of future research. In addition, the authors discuss the utility of the various versions of CPT, including cognitive only (CPT-C), group, individual, and combination. Further the research supporting the effectiveness of CPT for treating PTSD related to a variety of traumas, (e.g., combat, child abuse, and rape) and the significant impact CPT can have in areas of mental health related to PTSD (e.g., anger, guilt, social functioning) are described.
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The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL) is a widely used DSM-correspondent self-report measure of PTSD symptoms. The PCL was recently revised to reflect DSM-5 changes to the PTSD criteria. In this article, the authors describe the development and initial psychometric evaluation of the PCL for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Psychometric properties of the PCL-5 were examined in 2 studies involving trauma-exposed college students. In Study 1 (N = 278), PCL-5 scores exhibited strong internal consistency (α = .94), test-retest reliability (r = .82), and convergent (rs = .74 to .85) and discriminant (rs = .31 to .60) validity. In addition, confirmatory factor analyses indicated adequate fit with the DSM-5 4-factor model, χ(2) (164) = 455.83, p < .001, standardized root mean square residual (SRMR) = .07, root mean squared error of approximation (RMSEA) = .08, comparative fit index (CFI) = .86, and Tucker-Lewis index (TLI) = .84, and superior fit with recently proposed 6-factor, χ(2) (164) = 318.37, p < .001, SRMR = .05, RMSEA = .06, CFI = .92, and TLI = .90, and 7-factor, χ(2) (164) = 291.32, p < .001, SRMR = .05, RMSEA = .06, CFI = .93, and TLI = .91, models. In Study 2 (N = 558), PCL-5 scores demonstrated similarly strong reliability and validity. Overall, results indicate that the PCL-5 is a psychometrically sound measure of PTSD symptoms. Implications for use of the PCL-5 in a variety of assessment contexts are discussed.
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A significant number of veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet underutilization of mental health treatment remains a significant problem. The purpose of this review was to summarize rates of dropout from outpatient, psychosocial PTSD interventions provided to U.S. Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) veterans with combat-related PTSD. There were 788 articles that were identified which yielded 20 studies involving 1,191 individuals eligible for the review. The dropout rates in individual studies ranged from 5.0% to 78.2%, and the overall pooled dropout rate was 36%, 95% CI [26.20, 43.90]. The dropout rate differed marginally by study type (routine clinical care settings had higher dropout rates than clinical trials) and treatment format (group treatment had higher dropout rates than individual treatment), but not by whether comorbid substance dependence was excluded, by treatment modality (telemedicine vs. in-person treatment), or treatment type (exposure therapy vs. nonexposure therapy). Dropout is a critical aspect of the problem of underutilization of care among OEF/OIF/OND veterans with combat-related PTSD. Innovative strategies to enhance treatment retention are needed.
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This study describes a one-group pretest posttest evaluation of an agency-based treatment for children who endured complex trauma, including chronic physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and witnessing domestic violence. Participants included 31 children who completed at least 3 months of treatment at a private, child welfare treatment clinic. Treatment was phase-oriented and idiographic, grounded in attachment-based, cognitive-behavioral, and creative arts approaches to complex trauma treatment, and incorporating research-supported interventions. Children completed the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children at pre- and post-treatment, and client change in symptoms was evaluated. Significant improvement in symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger, dissociation, and sexual concerns was found following treatment. Effect sizes were in the moderate to large range. Client demographic and clinical characteristics were not associated with symptom improvement. Though preliminary, due to the small sample size and lack of control group, results contribute to the growing body of knowledge on client outcomes in front line clinical settings.
Article
Background: Data were obtained on the general population epidemiology of DSM-III-R posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including information on estimated lifetime prevalence, the kinds of traumas most often associated with PTSD, sociodemographic correlates, the comorbidity of PTSD with other lifetime psychiatric disorders, and the duration of an index episode.Methods: Modified versions of the DSM-III-R PTSD module from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule and of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview were administered to a representative national sample of 5877 persons aged 15 to 54 years in the part II subsample of the National Comorbidity Survey.Results: The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD is 7.8%. Prevalence is elevated among women and the previously married. The traumas most commonly associated with PTSD are combat exposure and witnessing among men and rape and sexual molestation among women. Posttraumatic stress disorder is strongly comorbid with other lifetime DSM-III-R disorders. Survival analysis shows that more than one third of people with an index episode of PTSD fail to recover even after many years.Conclusions: Posttraumatic stress disorder is more prevalent than previously believed, and is often persistent. Progress in estimating age-at-onset distributions, cohort effects, and the conditional probabilities of PTSD from different types of trauma will require future epidemiologic studies to assess PTSD for all lifetime traumas rather than for only a small number of retrospectively reported "most serious" traumas.
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The paper describes an empirically-based group therapy model for adult survivors of childhood incest. Process as well as outcome data based on a sample of 53 women are reported. The findings suggest that group intervention did help reduce depression and improve self-assessment. Follow-up data on levels of depression show that gains at termination were maintained at least six months post-intervention. Further monitoring, testing and fine-tuning of the model is still necessary.
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In a series of 51 previously abused women who entered therapy, 92% were found to have at least one form of mood disturbance such as low self-esteem, feelings of guilt, and depressive episodes. It is hypothesized that these disturbances may arise from certain distorted beliefs that clients hold concerning their earlier sexual abuse. Some common self-blaming and self-denigratory beliefs are outlined. An intervention package that included cognitive restructuring procedures was accompanied by clinically and statistically significant improvements in the clients' belief systems and the associated mood disturbances.
Article
Posttraumatic stess disorder (PTSD) is associated with functional impairment, co-occurring diagnoses, and increased health care utilization. Associated high demand for health care services is an important contributor to the large public-health cost of PTSD. Treatments incorporating exposure therapy are efficacious in ameliorating or eliminating PTSD symptoms. Accordingly, the Veterans Health Administration has made significant investments toward nationwide dissemination of a manualized exposure therapy protocol, prolonged exposure (PE). PE is effective with veterans; however, the relationship between PE and mental health service utilization is unknown. The current study investigates PE as it relates to actual tracked mental health service utilization in an urban VA medical center. A sample of 60 veterans with a diagnosis of PTSD was used to examine mental health service utilization in the 12-months prior to and 12-months after being offered PE. Hierarchical Linear Models and traditional repeated-measures ANOVA were used to estimate R2- and d-type effect sizes for service utilization. Associated estimated cost saving are reported. PE was associated with large reductions in symptoms and diagnosis remission. Treatment was also associated with statistically significant, large reductions in mental health service utilization for veterans who completed treatment. Findings suggest that expanding access to PE can increase access to mental health services in general by decreasing ongoing demand for specialty care clinical services. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
Article
Objective: This study tested a modified cognitive processing therapy (MCPT) intervention designed as a more flexible administration of the protocol. Number of sessions was determined by client progress toward a priori defined end-state criteria, "stressor sessions" were inserted when necessary, and therapy was conducted by novice CPT clinicians. Method: A randomized, controlled, repeated measures, semicrossover design was utilized (a) to test the relative efficacy of the MCPT intervention compared with a symptom-monitoring delayed treatment (SMDT) condition and (b) to assess within-group variation in change with a sample of 100 male and female interpersonal trauma survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Results: Hierarchical linear modeling analyses revealed that MCPT evidenced greater improvement on all primary (PTSD and depression) and secondary (guilt, quality of life, general mental health, social functioning, and health perceptions) outcomes compared with SMDT. After the conclusion of SMDT, participants crossed over to MCPT, resulting in a combined MCPT sample (n = 69). Of the 50 participants who completed MCPT, 58% reached end-state criteria prior to the 12th session, 8% at Session 12, and 34% between Sessions 12 and 18. Maintenance of treatment gains was found at the 3-month follow-up, with only 2 of the treated sample meeting criteria for PTSD. Use of stressor sessions did not result in poorer treatment outcomes. Conclusions: Findings suggest that individuals respond at a variable rate to CPT, with significant benefit from additional therapy when indicated and excellent maintenance of gains. Insertion of stressor sessions did not alter the efficacy of the therapy.
Article
Many women who seek help from psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counsellors and nurses, have been sexually abused in childhood. These women frequently complain of a wide range of mood disturbances, interpersonal difficulties and sexual dysfunctions that appear to be related to their earlier abuse and its surrounding circumstances. Consequently these contributory factors often need to be addressed in therapy. This book offers a systematic and comprehensive approach to the assessment and treatment of the psychosocial problems that are commonly encountered in this client group. These problems are described, and detailed guidelines are provided for practitioners who wish to implement and develop the author's intervention package. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a well recognized reaction to traumatic events, such as assault, disasters, and severe accidents. The symptoms include involuntary reexperiencing of aspects of the event, hyperarousal, emotional numbing, and avoidance of stimuli that could serve as reminders of the event. Many people experience at least some of these symptoms in the immediate aftermath of a traumatic event. A large proportion recover in the ensuing months or years, but in a significant subgroup the symptoms persist, often for many years (Ehlers, Mayou, & Bryant, 1998; Rothbaum, Foa, Riggs, Murdock, & Walsh, 1992; Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet, Hughes, & Nelson, 1995). This raises the question of why PTSD persists in some individuals and how the condition can be treated. The present chapter overviews our group's cognitive approach to these questions. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Research on the predictors of response to cognitive-behavioral treatments for PTSD has often produced inconsistent or ambiguous results. We argue this is in part due to the use of statistical techniques that explore relationships among the entire sample of participants rather than homogeneous subgroups. Using 2 large randomized controlled trials of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), CPT components, and Prolonged Exposure, we employed growth mixture modeling to identify distinct trajectories of treatment response and to determine the predictors of those trajectories. We determined that the participants' trajectories could be best represented by 2 latent classes, which we subsequently labeled responders (87% of the sample) and nonresponders (13% of the sample). Notably, there was not a separate class for partial responders. Assignment to the nonresponder class was associated with receiving the written accounts (WA) component of CPT, a pretreatment diagnosis of major depression (MDD), and more pretreatment hyperarousal symptoms. Thus, it appears that some individuals do not benefit from merely writing about their trauma and processing it with the therapist; they may also need to engage in cognitive restructuring to successfully ameliorate their symptoms. Additionally, those who meet criteria for MDD or have high levels of hyperarousal at the onset of treatment might require additional treatment or support.
Article
Community mental health clinicians are likely to find their case loads composed of women who have complicated trauma histories. In response to the absence of comprehensive treatment for trauma survivors within the community mental health system, an alternative model, Overcoming Pain and Adversity in Life (OPAL) is offered. As an intensive treatment program, OPAL is structured in a triphase format to accommodate the individual needs of each woman and to promote symptom reduction and/or resolution.
Article
Considerable evidence exists for the efficacy and tolerability of exposure therapy for PTSD (cf. Foa & Rothbaum, 1998; Rothbaum, Meadows, Resick, & Foy, 2000). However, the use of exposure therapy in real-world settings has lagged behind such findings. It is our belief that this gap between science and practice is partly due to several clinical myths regarding the use of exposure therapy. In this article, we outline four such myths, discuss relevant empirical findings, and argue that exposure therapy is indeed applicable for the treatment of a variety of patients with PTSD by clinicians in a variety of real-world settings.
Article
Recent research has focused on the effectiveness of evidence-based psychotherapy delivered via telehealth services. Unfortunately to date, the majority of studies employ very small samples and limited predictor and moderator variables. To address these concerns and further replicate and extend the literature on telehealth, the present study investigated the effectiveness of 12-session exposure therapy delivered either via telehealth (n=62) or in person (n=27) in veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Findings demonstrated that although older veterans and Vietnam veterans were more likely to complete the telehealth treatment, telehealth findings were not influenced by patient age, sex, race, combat theater, or disability status. Exposure therapy delivered via telehealth was effective in reducing the symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, depression, stress, and general impairment with large effect sizes. Interestingly, exposure therapy via telehealth was less effective than exposure therapy delivered in person; however, lack of random assignment to condition limits conclusions of differential effectiveness. Overall, these findings support the utility of telehealth services to provide effective, evidence-based psychotherapies.
Article
To investigate when and why therapists opt for or rule out imaginal exposure (IE) for patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 255 trauma experts were randomized to two conditions in which they were presented with four cases in which the patients' comorbidity and treatment preferences were manipulated. The results confirmed IE to be an underutilized approach, with the majority of professionals being undertrained in the technique. As predicted, the patient factors influenced the expert's choice of therapy: in case of a comorbid depression, IE was significantly less preferred than medication. Also, IE was significantly more likely to be offered when patients expressed a preference for trauma-focused treatment. The therapist factors were also found to be importantly related to treatment preferences, with high credibility in the technique being positively related to the therapists' preference for IE. Perceived barriers to IE, such as a fear of symptom exacerbation and dropout, were negatively related to the perceived suitability of the treatment when patients had suffered multiple traumas in childhood. The results are discussed in the light of clinical implications and the need of exposure training for trauma professionals.
Article
Meta-analyses were conducted on 14 separate risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and the moderating effects of various sample and study characteristics, including civilian/military status, were examined. Three categories of risk factor emerged: Factors such as gender, age at trauma, and race that predicted PTSD in some populations but not in others; factors such as education, previous trauma, and general childhood adversity that predicted PTSD more consistently but to a varying extent according to the populations studied and the methods used; and factors such as psychiatric history, reported childhood abuse, and family psychiatric history that had more uniform predictive effects. Individually, the effect size of all the risk factors was modest, but factors operating during or after the trauma, such as trauma severity, lack of social support, and additional life stress, had somewhat stronger effects than pretrauma factors.
Article
The Life Events Checklist (LEC), a measure of exposure to potentially traumatic events, was developed at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) concurrently with the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) to facilitate the diagnosis of PTSD. Although the CAPS is recognized as the gold standard in PTSD symptom assessment, the psychometric soundness of the LEC has never been formally evaluated. The studies reported here describe the performance of the LEC in two samples: college undergraduates and combat veterans. The LEC exhibited adequate temporal stability, good convergence with an established measure of trauma history -- the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) -- and was comparable to the TLEQ in associations with variables known to be correlated with traumatic exposure in a sample of undergraduates. In a clinical sample of combat veterans, the LEC was significantly correlated, in the predicted directions, with measures of psychological distress and was strongly associated with PTSD symptoms.
Article
The authors present a multidimensional meta-analysis of studies published between 1980 and 2003 on psychotherapy for PTSD. Data on variables not previously meta-analyzed such as inclusion and exclusion criteria and rates, recovery and improvement rates, and follow-up data were examined. Results suggest that psychotherapy for PTSD leads to a large initial improvement from baseline. More than half of patients who complete treatment with various forms of cognitive behavior therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing improve. Reporting of metrics other than effect size provides a somewhat more nuanced account of outcome and generalizability. The majority of patients treated with psychotherapy for PTSD in randomized trials recover or improve, rendering these approaches some of the most effective psychosocial treatments devised to date. Several caveats, however, are important in applying these findings to patients treated in the community. Exclusion criteria and failure to address polysymptomatic presentations render generalizability to the population of PTSD patients indeterminate. The majority of patients posttreatment continue to have substantial residual symptoms, and follow-up data beyond very brief intervals have been largely absent. Future research intended to generalize to patients in practice should avoid exclusion criteria other than those a sensible clinician would impose in practice (e.g., schizophrenia), should avoid wait-list and other relatively inert control conditions, and should follow patients through at least 2 years.