Effectiveness of an intensive treatment programme combining prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing for severe post-traumatic stress disorder

C. Van Woudenberg, E.M. Voorendonk, H. Bongaerts, H.A. Zoet, M. Verhagen, C.W. Lee, A. van Minnen, A. De Jongh

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Background: There is room for improvement regarding the treatment of severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Intensifying treatment to increase patient retention is a promising development.

Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of an intensive trauma-focused treatment programme over 8 days for individuals suffering from severe PTSD.

Method: Treatment was provided for 347 PTSD patients (70% women; mean age = 38.32 years, SD = 11.69) and consisted of daily sessions of prolonged exposure and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy (16 sessions in total), physical activity, and psycho-education. All participants had experienced multiple traumas, including sexual abuse (74.4%), and suffered from multiple comorbidities (e.g. 87.5% had a mood disorder). Suicidal ideation was frequent (73.9%). PTSD symptom severity was assessed by both clinician-rated [Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS)] and self-report [PTSD Symptom Scale Self Report (PSS-SR) and Impact of Event Scale (IES)] inventories. For a subsample (n = 109), follow-up data at 6 months were available.

Results: A significant decline in symptom severity was found (e.g. CAPS intention-to-treat sample Cohen's d = 1.64). At post-treatment, 82.9% showed a clinically meaningful response and 54.9% a loss of diagnosis. Dropout was very low (2.3%).

Conclusions: Intensive trauma-focused treatment programmes including prolonged exposure, EMDR therapy, and physical activity can be effective for patients suffering from severe PTSD and are associated with low dropout rates.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1487225
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018

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