Exposure therapy may help prevent post-traumatic stress disorder

Jun 03, 2008

Exposure-based therapy, in which recent trauma survivors are instructed to relive the troubling event, may be effective in preventing the progression from acute stress disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

Individuals who develop acute stress disorder during or soon after a traumatic event are likely to subsequently develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to background information in the article. PTSD is associated with other mental and physical illnesses, a reduced quality of life and increased health care costs.

Both exposure therapy and cognitive restructuring, which focuses on changing maladaptive thoughts and responses to a traumatic event, have been used as early interventions to prevent PTSD in those with acute stress disorder. However, there is evidence that some clinicians do not use exposure therapy because it causes distress for recent trauma survivors.

Richard A. Bryant, Ph.D., of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 90 patients who developed acute stress disorder following a non-sexual assault or motor vehicle crash between March 2002 and June 2006. Thirty participants each were randomly assigned to five weekly 90-minute sessions of exposure therapy or cognitive restructuring, while the remaining 30 were put on a waitlist for treatment. All the patients were assessed at the beginning of the study, after six weeks and six months following treatment.

Sixty-three participants completed the study. After completing treatment, fewer patients in the exposure therapy group (10, or 33 percent) met criteria for PTSD than patients in the cognitive restructuring group (19, or 63 percent) or the wait-list group (23, or 77 percent). At the six-month follow-up, fewer patients in the exposure therapy group (11, or 37 percent) met criteria for PTSD than patients in the cognitive restructuring group (19, or 63 percent), and 14 patients (47 percent) in the exposure group vs. four patients (13 percent) in the cognitive restructuring group achieved full remission.

"Despite some concerns that patients may not be able to manage the distress elicited by prolonged exposure, there was no difference in drop-out rates for the prolonged exposure and cognitive restructuring groups (17 percent vs. 23 percent)," the authors write. In addition, distress ratings were more significantly reduced in the exposure therapy group than the cognitive restructuring group after three sessions.

Source: JAMA and Archives Journals

Explore further: Support for electronic health information varies with use

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ag-tech could change how the world eats

3 hours ago

Investors and entrepreneurs behind some of the world's newest industries have started to put their money and tech talents into farming - the world's oldest industry - with an audacious agenda: to make sure there is enough ...

World's rarest cetacean threatened by illegal gillnets

3 hours ago

The world's rarest cetacean could disappear in less than four years unless immediate action is taken by the Mexican government to protect it from entanglement in gillnets deployed illegally in its Gulf of California refuge, ...

Enviro-tracker is wearable for citizen monitoring

5 hours ago

Mobile hardware and software allow us to count our steps, and to count our calories, but a Vancouver, Canada, startup group asked, what about tracking our environment? TZOA was founded in 2013. Laura Moe, ...

In Curiosity Hacked, children learn to make, not buy

5 hours ago

With her right hand, my 8-year-old daughter, Kalian, presses the red-hot soldering iron against the circuit board. With her left hand, she guides a thin, tin wire until it's pressing against both the circuit board and the ...

Recommended for you

Supplement maker admits lying about ingredients

14 hours ago

Federal prosecutors say the owner and president of a dietary supplement company has admitted his role in the sale of diluted and adulterated dietary ingredients and supplements sold by his company.

ICU diaries may aid survivors in recovery after discharge

Dec 15, 2014

(HealthDay)—Patient diaries kept during a hospital stay in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a critical illness may be used as a therapeutic tool to assist survivors in recovery after discharge, according ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.