The one-hour therapy began in the emergency room within 12 hours of the trauma and was repeated one and two weeks later. Symptoms were assessed at weeks 4 and 12. Significantly fewer patients in the intervention group met criteria for PTSD at week 12, compared with controls. There was no significant difference in PTSD severity at weeks 4 and 12 for victims of physical assault or transportation accidents, but victims of sexual assault did significantly benefit from the intervention at both follow-up times.
“[T]he modified prolonged exposure intervention presented here may be able to prevent the development of PTSD . . . by encouraging engagement with the trauma memory and providing an opportunity for fear habituation and processing of unhelpful cognitions, thus modifying the memory before it is consolidated,” wrote Emory’s Barbara Rothbaum, Ph.D., and colleagues in the December 1 Journal of Biological Psychiatry.
To read more about early interventions for PTSD, see Psychiatric News here. For information on recent research and clinical advances in PTSD, see Clinical Manual for Management of PTSD from American Psychiatric Publishing. For a study of prolonged exposure in PTSD treatment, see the American Journal of Psychiatry here.
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