An initial review of residual symptoms after empirically supported trauma-focused cognitive behavioral psychological treatment

Sadie E. Larsen, Aimee Bellmore, Robyn L. Gobin, Pamela Holens, Karen A. Lawrence, Maria L. Pacella-LaBarbara

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Objective: Although residual symptoms remain following clinical treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), little is known about the characteristics of these residual symptoms. We aimed to determine the type, severity, and frequency of symptoms that remain after trauma-focused psychotherapy. Methods: We conducted a systematic review of 51 randomized controlled trials of empirically supported psychosocial interventions for PTSD (68 total treatment arms). Outcomes included: 1) PTSD symptoms and 2) conditions commonly comorbid with PTSD: depression, anxiety, and quality of life impairment. Results: In general, the results revealed that participants who completed PTSD treatment continued to report residual PTSD symptoms: 31% reported clinical symptom levels, and 59% reported subthreshold levels at posttreatment, particularly within the hyperarousal cluster. Residual symptoms also emerged for depression (19% clinical), anxiety (55% clinical), and quality of life (36% clinical). Few differences emerged across treatment types, but differential patterns were revealed for sample/trauma types. Conclusions: Results suggest a need for focused research attention to and clinical assessment of individual residual symptoms following empirically supported treatment for PTSD to determine whether further treatment sessions are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Volume63
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2019

Keywords

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Refractory symptoms
  • Residual symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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