Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD Effective Even in Compressed Format

For combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder, both massed and intensive outpatients forms of prolonged exposure therapy are fast and effective.

HealthDay News — Both massed and intensive outpatient forms of prolonged exposure (PE) therapy are fast and effective for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online Jan. 5 in JAMA Network Open.

Alan L. Peterson, Ph.D., from University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and colleagues randomly assigned 234 military personnel and veterans to massed-PE (15 therapy sessions of 90 minutes each over three weeks) or intensive outpatient program PE (IOP-PE; 15 full-day therapy sessions over three weeks with eight treatment augmentations).

The researchers found that Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale scores decreased in both treatment groups at the one-month follow-up. During six-month follow-up, PTSD symptoms increased in massed-PE participants, while IOP-PE participants maintained treatment gains. PTSD Checklist scores decreased in both groups from baseline to one-month follow-up and were maintained at six months. Posttreatment, both groups had notable PTSD diagnostic remission (IOP-PE: 48 percent; massed-PE: 62 percent), which was maintained at six months (IOP-PE: 53 percent; massed-PE: 52 percent).

“The compressed treatment formats evaluated in this study also provide a potential for new alternative modes of therapy using combined treatments, medications, and devices,” the authors write.

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