Effectiveness of Three Different Psychotherapies for Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

2014-07-23 21:20:41 | BioPortfolio


This study will examine whether interpersonal psychotherapy is as effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder as the established therapies of prolonged exposure and relaxation.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is caused by a traumatic experience often involving physical harm or the threat of harm or death. The emotional numbness and traumatic flashbacks symptomatic of PTSD interfere with everyday life for approximately 7.7 million adults. Besides prescription drug treatment, only exposure-based therapies, like prolonged exposure (PE) therapy, have been proved effective in treating PTSD. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), which is not based on exposure, is effective in treating mood disorders, and pilot studies indicate it may also be effective in treating PTSD. IPT treats patients by helping them to improve their interpersonal functioning, as opposed to PE, which helps patients by guiding them to recreate traumatic memories in safe circumstances. This study will determine whether IPT is as effective as PE, the gold standard, in treating PTSD. Relaxation therapy, a commonly used control therapy for studies of PTSD, will be used for that purpose here.

All participants will be screened for PTSD, with those meeting the criteria being randomly assigned to one of the following three treatment groups:

- Group 1 participants will receive IPT. They will meet weekly for fourteen 50-minute sessions focusing on interpersonal consequences of the trauma affecting them and their relationships with others.

- Group 2 participants will receive PE. They will meet for 10, unevenly spaced 90-minute sessions during which they will face the trauma responsible for their symptoms.

- Group 3 participants will receive relaxation therapy. They will meet for nine 90-minute sessions and one 30-minute session during which they will learn relaxation methods.

All treatments will last 14 weeks, with assessments made by mental health professionals at screening, the midpoint of the study, the end of the study, and a 3-month follow-up. PTSD symptoms will be assessed through clinical interviews and self-report measures. In addition, participants will complete other interviews and tests that will examine a variety of factors relating to mental health, including comorbidity of other conditions, affect, social functioning, and quality of life.

Study Design

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind (Outcomes Assessor), Primary Purpose: Treatment


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Prolonged Exposure Therapy, Relaxation Therapy


New York State Psychiatric Institute
New York
New York
United States




National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Results (where available)

View Results


Published on BioPortfolio: 2014-07-23T21:20:41-0400

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