Report: Little Known about Impacts of PTSD Treatments, Prevention Services

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Despite the increasing number of service members and civilians suffering from the emotional, financial, physical, and psychosocial burdens of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), little is known about the relative impacts of available treatment options or the effectiveness of preventive services, according to research by the RTI-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center.

Researchers at the RTI-UNC EPC conducted two systematic reviews of studies that involved civilian and military populations of both sexes. Their findings are detailed in an RTI Press research brief, which spells out a research agenda for preventing and treating PTSD and related conditions in adults.  

 “We did not find reliable evidence supporting efficacy for most interventions to prevent PTSD,” said Gerald Gartlehner, M.D., RTI associate director of the RTI-UNC EPC. “Lack of definitive evidence on interventions to prevent PTSD in adults makes clinical and policy decision making challenging.”
 
The research brief authors said that although some psychological interventions and medications can reduce symptoms of PTSD in adults, which treatments to select for individual patients remains uncertain.

“Several psychological and pharmacological services appear to be effective for improving outcomes for adults with PTSD, but additional comparative research is needed, including research to inform selection of the best or most promising treatments for a given patient,” said Daniel Jonas, M.D., co-director of the RTI-UNC EPC at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill.

“Numerous interventions aimed at either prevention or treatment warrant additional investigation, especially in comparative trials,” said Catherine Forneris, Ph.D., professor and licensed psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine at UNC- Chapel Hill. “Subgroups require more attention to clarify which interventions are efficacious for different patient populations.”

 

male soldier with a distraught expression

Highlights

  • Little is known about the relative impacts of available treatment options or the effectiveness of preventive services, according to research by the RTI-University of North Carolina Evidence-based Practice Center
  • Researchers at the RTI-UNC EPC conducted two systematic reviews of studies that involved civilian and military populations of both sexes
  • Their findings are detailed in an RTI Press research brief, which spells out a research agenda for preventing and treating PTSD and related conditions in adults