Prolonged exposure vs eye movement desensitization and reprocessing vs waiting list for posttraumatic stress disorder in patients with a psychotic disorder: a randomized clinical trial

D.P.G. van den Berg, P.A.J.M. de Bont, B.M. van der Vleugel, C. de Roos, A. de Jongh, A. van Minnen, M. van der Gaag

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Importance
The efficacy of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments in psychosis has not been examined in a randomized clinical trial to our knowledge. Psychosis is an exclusion criterion in most PTSD trials.

Objective
To examine the efficacy and safety of prolonged exposure (PE) therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy in patients with psychotic disorders and comorbid PTSD.

Design, Setting, and Participants
A single-blind randomized clinical trial with 3 arms (N = 155), including PE therapy, EMDR therapy, and waiting list (WL) of 13 outpatient mental health services among patients with a lifetime psychotic disorder and current chronic PTSD. Baseline, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up assessments were made.

Interventions
Participants were randomized to receive 8 weekly 90-minute sessions of PE (n = 53), EMDR (n = 55), or WL (n = 47). Standard protocols were used, and treatment was not preceded by stabilizing psychotherapeutic interventions.

Main Outcomes and Measures
Clinician-rated severity of PTSD symptoms, PTSD diagnosis, and full remission (on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale) were primary outcomes. Self-reported PTSD symptoms and posttraumatic cognitions were secondary outcomes.

Results
Data were analyzed as intent to treat with linear mixed models and generalized estimating equations. Participants in the PE and EMDR conditions showed a greater reduction of PTSD symptoms than those in the WL condition. Between-group effect sizes were 0.78 (P < .001) in PE and 0.65 (P = .001) in EMDR. Participants in the PE condition (56.6%; odds ratio [OR], 3.41; P = .006) or the EMDR condition (60.0%; OR, 3.92; P < .001) were significantly more likely to achieve loss of diagnosis during treatment than those in the WL condition (27.7%). Participants in the PE condition (28.3%; OR, 5.79; P = .01), but not those in the EMDR condition (16.4%; OR, 2.87; P = .10), were more likely to gain full remission than those in the WL condition (6.4%). Treatment effects were maintained at the 6-month follow-up in PE and EMDR. Similar results were obtained regarding secondary outcomes. There were no differences in severe adverse events between conditions (2 in PE, 1 in EMDR, and 4 in WL). The PE therapy and EMDR therapy showed no difference in any of the outcomes and no difference in participant dropout (24.5% in PE and 20.0% in EMDR, P = .57).

Conclusions and Relevance
Standard PE and EMDR protocols are effective, safe, and feasible in patients with PTSD and severe psychotic disorders, including current symptoms. A priori exclusion of individuals with psychosis from evidence-based PTSD treatments may not be justifiable.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)259-267
JournalJAMA Psychiatry
Volume72
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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