A recent meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) delivered within a 3-month period of traumatic events to be effective in the treatment of trauma-induced stress symptoms for patients with PTSD or acute stress disorder.
Research has demonstrated the effectiveness of “multiple-session trauma-focused psychological interventions to treat chronic PTSD,” but little had been done to evaluate the efficacy of early interventions. The present study analyzed randomized controlled trials of early interventions, assessing efficacy, the population receiving the greatest benefit, the best modalities of treatment, and the optimal timing of treatment.
The researchers performed a meta-analysis and systematic review of 25 studies whose interventions were designed to treat or prevent PTSD within 3 months of a traumatic event. The authors found that trauma-focused CBT was significantly more effective for patients than usual care or being on waiting lists in terms of reducing stress symptoms of trauma. The magnitude of the effects varied for this finding; CBT was found to be most effective for individuals diagnosed with acute PTSD or acute stress disorder. Participants who did not meet the diagnostic criteria of a psychological stress disorder gained only minimal benefits from trauma-focused CBT.
The authors concluded that trauma-focused CBT should be offered to patients suffering from acute PTSD or acute stress disorder. They also noted that further investigation could determine whether trauma-focused CBT should become part of initial screening programs for patients who have experienced major traumatic events.
Study authors: N. P. Roberts, N. J. Kitchiner, J. Kenardy, J. I. Bisson