Cognitive Therapy More Effective than Journaling for Women with PTSD

Researchers from the National Center for PTSD at the Boston V.A. Medical Center studied 150 women with PTSD to compare CBT with journaling.. Researchers from the National Center for PTSD at the Boston V.A. Medical Center compared Cognitive Processing Therapy with its separated out, component parts: cognitive therapy only (CPT-C) and written accounts only (WA), for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and accompanying symptoms.

The intent-to-treat (ITT) sample included 150 adult women with PTSD who were randomized into 1 of the 3 conditions. Each condition consisted of 2 hours of therapy per week for 6 weeks. Blind assessments were conducted before treatment, 2 weeks following the last session, and 6 months following treatment. Measures of PTSD and depression were collected weekly to examine the course of recovery during treatment as well as before and after treatment. Secondary measures assessed anxiety, anger, shame, guilt, and dysfunctional cognitions. Independent ratings of adherence and competence were also conducted.

Analyses with the ITT sample and with study completers indicate that patients in all 3 treatments improved substantially on PTSD and depression, the primary measures, and improved on other indices of adjustment.

However, there were significant group differences in symptom reduction during the course of treatment, whereby the CPT-C condition reported greater improvement in PTSD than the WA condition.

Citation: Resick PA, Galovski TE, O'Brien Uhlmansiek M, Scher CD, Clum GA, Young-Xu Y. A randomized clinical trial to dismantle components of cognitive processing therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in female victims of interpersonal violence. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psycholy. 2008 Apr; 76 (2): pages 243-58. [email protected]