Publications by authors named "Jeffrey S Yarvis"

41 Publications

Efficacy of individual and group cognitive processing therapy for military personnel with and without child abuse histories.

J Consult Clin Psychol 2021 May;89(5):476-482

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center.

Many clinicians question whether patients with a history of childhood trauma will benefit from trauma-focused treatment. In this secondary analysis, we examined whether reports of childhood abuse moderated the efficacy of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for active-duty military with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Service members ( = 254, mean age 33.11 years, 91% male, 41% Caucasian) were randomized to receive individual or group CPT ( = 106 endorsing and = 148 not endorsing history of childhood abuse). Outcomes included baseline cognitive-emotional characteristics [Posttraumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI), Trauma-Related Guilt Inventory (TRGI), Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire-Short Form (CERQ)], treatment completion, and symptom outcome (PTSD Checklist, Beck Depression Inventory-II). We predicted participants endorsing childhood abuse would have higher scores on the PTCI, TRGI, and CERQ at baseline, but be noninferior on treatment completion and change in PTSD and depression symptoms. We also predicted those endorsing childhood abuse would do better in individual CPT than those not endorsing abuse. Those endorsing childhood abuse primarily experienced physical abuse. There were no baseline differences between service members with and without a history of childhood abuse (all ≥ .07). Collapsed across treatment arms, treatment completion and symptom reduction were within the noninferiority margins for those endorsing versus not endorsing childhood abuse. History of abuse did not moderate response to individual versus group CPT. In this primarily male, primarily physically abused sample, active-duty military personnel with PTSD who endorsed childhood abuse benefitted as much as those who did not endorse abuse. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000641DOI Listing
May 2021

A Novel Approach to the Assessment of Fidelity to a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for PTSD Using Clinical Worksheets: A Proof of Concept With Cognitive Processing Therapy.

Behav Ther 2021 May 12;52(3):656-672. Epub 2020 Sep 12.

Duke University Medical Center.

Fidelity monitoring is a critical indicator of psychotherapy quality and is central to successful implementation. A major barrier to fidelity in routine care is the lack of feasible, scalable, and valid measurement strategies. A reliable, low-burden fidelity assessment would promote sustained implementation of cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs). The current study examined fidelity measurement for cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) using clinical worksheets. External raters evaluated patient worksheets done as a part of treatment, both guided by the therapist and completed independently as homework. Results demonstrated that fidelity ratings from CPT session worksheets were feasible and efficient. Notably, they were strongly correlated with observer ratings of the fidelity of CPT strategies that were present on the worksheets. Agreement among ratings conducted by individuals with a range of experience with CPT was acceptable to high. There was not a main effect of therapist-guided, in-session worksheet ratings on PTSD symptom change. However, patient competence in completing worksheets independently was associated with greater PTSD symptom decline and in-session, therapist-guided worksheet completion was associated with larger symptom decreases among patients with high levels of competence. With further research and refinement, rating of worksheets may be an efficient way to examine therapist and patient skill in key CPT elements, and their interactions, compared to the gold standard of observer ratings of therapy video-recordings. Additional research is needed to determine if worksheets are an accurate and scalable alternative to gold standard observer ratings in settings in which time and resources are limited.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2020.08.005DOI Listing
May 2021

Variable-length Cognitive Processing Therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder in active duty military: Outcomes and predictors.

Behav Res Ther 2021 Jun 25;141:103846. Epub 2021 Mar 25.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is an evidence-based therapy recommended for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, rates of improvement and remission are lower in veterans and active duty military compared to civilians. Although CPT was developed as a 12-session therapy, varying the number of sessions based on patient response has improved outcomes in a civilian study. This paper describes outcomes of a clinical trial of variable-length CPT among an active duty sample. Aims were to determine if service members would benefit from varying the dose of treatment and identify predictors of treatment length needed to reach good end-state (PTSD Checklist-5 ≤ 19). This was a within-subjects trial in which all participants received CPT (N = 127). Predictor variables included demographic, symptom, and trauma-related variables; internalizing/externalizing personality traits; and readiness for change. Varying treatment length resulted in more patients achieving good end-state. Best predictors of nonresponse or needing longer treatment were pretreatment depression and PTSD severity, internalizing temperament, being in precontemplation stage of readiness for change, and African American race. Controlling for differences in demographics and initial PTSD symptom severity, the outcomes using a variable-length CPT protocol were superior to the outcomes of a prior study using a fixed, 12-session CPT protocol. CLINICALTRIALS.GOV IDENTIFIER: NCT023818.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2021.103846DOI Listing
June 2021

A Closer Examination of Relational Outcomes from a Pilot Study of Abbreviated, Intensive, Multi-Couple Group Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD with Military Dyads.

Fam Process 2021 Apr 20. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA.

Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD) is associated with improvements in patients' PTSD symptoms, partners' psychological distress, and relationship satisfaction. However, little is known about whether CBCT for PTSD is associated with changes in other relationship domains that have theoretical and clinical relevance to the relational context of PTSD. The current study is a secondary analysis of relational outcomes from an uncontrolled, within-group trial designed to examine whether an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-CBCT for PTSD) delivered in a retreat during a single weekend was associated with improvements in PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction. In this investigation, we examined whether AIM-CBCT for PTSD is also associated with improvements in ineffective arguing, supportive dyadic coping by partner, joint dyadic coping, and partners' accommodation of patients' PTSD symptoms. Participants were 24 couples who included a post-9/11 U.S. service member or veteran with PTSD. At 1- and 3-month follow-up, patients reported significant reductions in couples' ineffective arguing (ds = -.71 and -.78, respectively) and increases in supportive dyadic coping by partners relative to baseline (ds = .50 and .44, respectively). By 3-month follow-up, patients also reported significant increases in couples' joint dyadic coping (d = .57), and partners reported significant reductions in their accommodation of patients' PTSD symptoms (d = -.44). Findings suggest that AIM-CBCT for PTSD is associated with improvements in multiple relationship domains beyond relationship satisfaction but that these may be differentially salient for patients and partners.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12654DOI Listing
April 2021

A Closer Examination of Relational Outcomes from a Pilot Study of Abbreviated, Intensive, Multi-Couple Group Cognitive-Behavioral Conjoint Therapy for PTSD with Military Dyads.

Fam Process 2021 Apr 20. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA.

Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD) is associated with improvements in patients' PTSD symptoms, partners' psychological distress, and relationship satisfaction. However, little is known about whether CBCT for PTSD is associated with changes in other relationship domains that have theoretical and clinical relevance to the relational context of PTSD. The current study is a secondary analysis of relational outcomes from an uncontrolled, within-group trial designed to examine whether an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-CBCT for PTSD) delivered in a retreat during a single weekend was associated with improvements in PTSD symptoms and relationship satisfaction. In this investigation, we examined whether AIM-CBCT for PTSD is also associated with improvements in ineffective arguing, supportive dyadic coping by partner, joint dyadic coping, and partners' accommodation of patients' PTSD symptoms. Participants were 24 couples who included a post-9/11 U.S. service member or veteran with PTSD. At 1- and 3-month follow-up, patients reported significant reductions in couples' ineffective arguing (ds = -.71 and -.78, respectively) and increases in supportive dyadic coping by partners relative to baseline (ds = .50 and .44, respectively). By 3-month follow-up, patients also reported significant increases in couples' joint dyadic coping (d = .57), and partners reported significant reductions in their accommodation of patients' PTSD symptoms (d = -.44). Findings suggest that AIM-CBCT for PTSD is associated with improvements in multiple relationship domains beyond relationship satisfaction but that these may be differentially salient for patients and partners.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12654DOI Listing
April 2021

Preserving Continuity of Behavioral Health Clinical Care to Patients Using Mobile Devices.

Mil Med 2021 01;186(Suppl 1):137-141

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA.

Introduction: The current model for treating behavioral health patients requires that providers and patients be in the same location for appointments. However, deploying warfighters present a challenge to this current model. Recent advances in technology make telehealth or virtual visits a viable option to replace the current model. This project leveraged mobile technology to see if performing tele-behavioral health visits presented a viable option to the current in-person model for future deployed warfighters. At the time of this publication, the authors note the current pandemic lends all the more urgency to the need for enhancing our video communication platforms for remote monitoring with the Military Health System.

Materials And Methods: The research team assessed existing Internet protocol-based desktop teleconferencing solutions, generically known as a Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) system, for establishing a secure connection to a Service Members personal mobile device outside of the Department of Defense (DoD) network. Of the five existing WebRTC systems evaluated, only the backbone component to the existing Defense Information Systems Agency Global Video Services (DISA GVS) known as Vidyo, was suitable to meet DoD security requirements and still connect with both major operating systems (OS) on mobile devices. An existing DoD program of record mobile application, mCare, was integrated with Vidyo desktop technologies to form what the research team called "Mobile Connect."

Results: Deployment of the Mobile Connect product yielded distinct differences and high levels or variability between the .osd.mil and the army.mil network connections over time. These network differences impacted quality of service solution where Mobile Connect could not be used to provide care between the .mil and patient's personal mobile devices from a osd.mil domain connection. The current DoD WebRTC systems offer potential solutions but presently cannot connect with personal mobile devices in their current configurations. Additionally, any WebRTC system used by the DoD for future connections to personal mobile device must leverage commercial Single Socket Layer certificates (e.g., not DoD issued), or the communications with the mobile device will fail as a result of an authentication error.

Conclusion: It is technically feasible to provide desktop Video Tele-Conference capabilities from a .mil computer to a personal mobile device without compromising DoD security and information assurance requirements using future WebRTC systems. Approved ports, protocols, and system settings must be configured to accept both inbound and outbound, encrypted traffic to/from personal mobile devices to maintain consistent quality of service with all DoD networks. Of the current DoD WebRTC options, working with the DISA GVS Program Manager to expand services to support commercial mobile devices has the highest probability of future success.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/milmed/usaa281DOI Listing
January 2021

Parameters of Aggressive Behavior in a Treatment-Seeking Sample of Military Personnel: A Secondary Analysis of Three Randomized Controlled Trials of Evidence-Based PTSD Treatments.

Behav Ther 2021 01 30;52(1):136-148. Epub 2020 Mar 30.

VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University School of Medicine.

Aggressive behavior is prevalent among veterans of post-9/11 conflicts who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, little is known about whether PTSD treatments reduce aggression or the direction of the association between changes in PTSD symptoms and aggression in the context of PTSD treatment. We combined data from three clinical trials of evidence-based PTSD treatment in service members (N = 592) to: (1) examine whether PTSD treatment reduces psychological (e.g., verbal behavior) and physical aggression, and; (2) explore temporal associations between aggressive behavior and PTSD. Both psychological (Estimate = -2.20, SE = 0.07) and physical aggression (Estimate = -0.36, SE = 0.05) were significantly reduced from baseline to posttreatment follow-up. Lagged PTSD symptom reduction was not associated with reduced reports of aggression; however, higher baseline PTSD scores were significantly associated with greater reductions in psychological aggression (exclusively; ß = -0.67, 95% CI = -1.05, -0.30, SE = -3.49). Findings reveal that service members receiving PTSD treatment report substantial collateral changes in psychological aggression over time, particularly for participants with greater PTSD symptom severity. Clinicians should consider cotherapies or alternative ways of targeting physical aggression among service members with PTSD and alternative approaches to reduce psychological aggression among service members with relatively low PTSD symptom severity when considering evidence-based PTSD treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2020.03.007DOI Listing
January 2021

The Impact of Hazardous Drinking Among Active Duty Military With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Does Cognitive Processing Therapy Format Matter?

J Trauma Stress 2021 02 19;34(1):210-220. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

This study was a secondary data analysis of clinical trial data collected from 268 active duty U.S. military service members seeking cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at Fort Hood, Texas, related to combat operations following September 11, 2001. Our primary aim was to evaluate changes in PTSD symptom severity and alcohol misuse as a function of baseline hazardous drinking and treatment format (i.e., group or individual). At baseline and posttreatment, PTSD was assessed using the PTSD Symptom Scale-Interview Version and PTSD Checklist for DSM-5. Hazardous drinking was categorically defined as an Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test total score of 8 or higher. Employing intent-to-treat, mixed-effects regression analysis, all groups reported reduced PTSD symptom severity, Hedges' gs = -0.33 to -1.01, except, unexpectedly, nonhazardous drinkers who were randomized to group CPT, Hedges' g = -0.12. Hazardous drinkers who were randomized to individual therapy had larger reductions in PTSD symptoms than nonhazardous drinkers who were randomized to group CPT, Hedges' g = -0.25. Hazardous drinkers also reported significant reductions in alcohol misuse, regardless of treatment format, Hedges' gs = -0.78 to -0.86. This study builds upon an emerging literature suggesting that individuals with PTSD and co-occurring alcohol use disorder can engage successfully in CPT, which appears to be an appropriate treatment for these individuals whether it is delivered individually or in a group format. However, as a portion of participants remained classified as hazardous drinkers at posttreatment, some individuals may benefit from integrated treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22609DOI Listing
February 2021

Intensive, Multi-Couple Group Therapy for PTSD: A Nonrandomized Pilot Study With Military and Veteran Dyads.

Behav Ther 2020 09 27;51(5):700-714. Epub 2019 Nov 27.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio; South Texas Veterans Health Care System; The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Cognitive-behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD; Monson & Fredman, 2012) is efficacious in improving PTSD symptoms and relationship adjustment among couples with PTSD. However, there is a need for more efficient delivery formats to maximize engagement and retention and to achieve faster outcomes in multiple domains. This nonrandomized trial was designed to pilot an abbreviated, intensive, multi-couple group version of CBCT for PTSD (AIM-CBCT for PTSD) delivered over a single weekend for 24 couples that included an active-duty service member or veteran with PTSD who had deployed in support of combat operations following September 11, 2001. All couples completed treatment. Assessments conducted by clinical evaluators 1 and 3 months after the intervention revealed significant reductions in clinician-rated PTSD symptoms (ds = -0.77 and -0.98, respectively) and in patients' self-reported symptoms of PTSD (ds = -0.73 and -1.17, respectively), depression (ds = -0.60 and -0.75, respectively), anxiety (ds = -0.63 and -0.73, respectively), and anger (ds = -0.45 and -0.60, respectively), relative to baseline. By 3-month follow-up, partners reported significant reductions in patients' PTSD symptoms (d = -0.56), as well as significant improvements in their own depressive symptoms (d = -0.47), anxiety (d = -0.60), and relationship satisfaction (d = 0.53), relative to baseline. Delivering CBCT for PTSD through an abbreviated, intensive multi-couple group format may be an efficient strategy for improving patient, partner, and relational well-being in military and veteran couples with PTSD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2019.10.003DOI Listing
September 2020

Weekly Changes in Blame and PTSD Among Active-Duty Military Personnel Receiving Cognitive Processing Therapy.

Behav Ther 2020 05 28;51(3):386-400. Epub 2019 Jun 28.

Duke University Medical Center.

Both negative posttraumatic cognitions and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms decrease over the course of cognitive-behavior therapy for PTSD; however, further research is needed to determine whether cognitive change precedes and predicts symptom change. The present study examined whether weekly changes in blame predicted subsequent changes in PTSD symptoms over the course of cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Participants consisted of 321 active duty U.S. Army soldiers with PTSD who received CPT in one of two clinical trials. Symptoms of PTSD and blame were assessed at baseline and weekly throughout treatment. Bivariate latent difference score modeling was used to examine temporal sequential dependencies between the constructs. Results indicated that changes in self-blame and PTSD symptoms were dynamically linked: When examining cross-construct predictors, changes in PTSD symptoms were predicted by prior changes in self-blame, but changes in self-blame were also predicted by both prior levels of and prior changes in PTSD. Changes in other-blame were predicted by prior levels of PTSD, but changes in other-blame did not predict changes in PTSD symptoms. Findings highlight the dynamic relationship between self-blame and PTSD symptoms during treatment in this active military sample.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2019.06.008DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7233479PMC
May 2020

Sleep problems in active duty military personnel seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: presence, change, and impact on outcomes.

Sleep 2020 10;43(10)

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Study Objectives: To examine sleep disorder symptom reports at baseline and posttreatment in a sample of active duty U.S. Army Soldiers receiving treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Explore sleep-related predictors of outcomes.

Methods: Sleep was evaluated in 128 participants in a parent randomized clinical trial comparing Spaced formats of Prolonged Exposure (PE) or Present Centered Therapy and a Massed format of PE. In the current study, Spaced formats were combined and evaluated separately from Massed.

Results: At baseline, the average sleep duration was < 5 h per night on weekdays/workdays and < 6 h per night on weekends/off days. The majority of participants reported clinically significant insomnia, clinically significant nightmares, and probable sleep apnea and approximately half reported excessive daytime sleepiness at baseline. Insomnia and nightmares improved significantly from baseline to posttreatment in all groups, but many patients reported clinically significant insomnia (>70%) and nightmares (>38%) posttreatment. Excessive daytime sleepiness significantly improved only in the Massed group, but 40% continued to report clinically significant levels at posttreatment. Short sleep (Spaced only), clinically significant insomnia and nightmares, excessive daytime sleepiness, and probable sleep apnea (Massed only) at baseline predicted higher PTSD symptoms across treatment course. Short weekends/off days sleep predicted lower PTSD symptom improvement in the Spaced treatments.

Conclusions: Various sleep disorder symptoms were high at baseline, were largely unchanged with PTSD treatment, and were related to worse PTSD treatment outcomes. Studies are needed with objective sleep assessments and targeted sleep disorders treatments in PTSD patients.

Clinical Trial Registration: NCT01049516.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sleep/zsaa065DOI Listing
October 2020

Trauma-Related Cognitions and Cognitive Emotion Regulation as Mediators of PTSD Change Among Treatment-Seeking Active-Duty Military Personnel With PTSD.

Behav Ther 2019 11 5;50(6):1053-1062. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Trauma-related cognitions about the self and the world have been identified as a mediator of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) change during prolonged exposure (PE) therapy. However, the extent to which negative cognitions mediate PTSD change in other PTSD treatments is unclear. In addition, previous studies have not tested alternate mediators of PTSD change during PE. In a sample of 216 treatment-seeking active-duty military personnel with PTSD, the present study examined the specificity of the negative cognition mediation effect in both PE and present-centered therapy (PCT). In addition, we examined another possible mediator, cognitive emotion regulation. Lagged mediational analyses indicated that negative cognitions about the self and world and the unhelpful cognitive emotion regulation strategy of catastrophizing each significantly mediated change in PTSD from baseline to 6-month follow-up. In a combined model, the mediating effect of catastrophizing was greater than negative cognitions about the world, and similar to negative cognitions about the self. Moderated mediation analyses revealed that the effect of catastrophizing was greater in PE than in PCT. Findings show that trauma-related cognitions and, to a greater degree, the emotion regulation strategy catastrophizing, both mediate PTSD change. Further research is needed to determine whether these mediating variables represent mechanisms of therapeutic change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beth.2019.03.006DOI Listing
November 2019

Changes in anger and aggression after treatment for PTSD in active duty military.

J Clin Psychol 2020 03 16;76(3):493-507. Epub 2019 Nov 16.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Objective: To examine whether treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reduces anger and aggression and if changes in PTSD symptoms are associated with changes in anger and aggression.

Method: Active duty service members (n = 374) seeking PTSD treatment in two randomized clinical trials completed a pretreatment assessment, 12 treatment sessions, and a posttreatment assessment. Outcomes included the Revised Conflict Tactics Scale and state anger subscale of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory.

Results: Treatment groups were analyzed together. There were small to moderate pretreatment to posttreatment reductions in anger (standardized mean difference [SMD] = -0.25), psychological aggression (SMD = -0.43), and physical aggression (SMD = -0.25). The majority of participants continued to endorse anger and aggression at posttreatment. Changes in PTSD symptoms were mildly to moderately associated with changes in anger and aggression.

Conclusions: PTSD treatments reduced anger and aggression with effects similar to anger and aggression treatments; innovative psychotherapies are needed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jclp.22878DOI Listing
March 2020

Patterns and predictors of change in trauma-focused treatments for war-related posttraumatic stress disorder.

J Consult Clin Psychol 2019 Nov 26;87(11):1019-1029. Epub 2019 Sep 26.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Objective: We evaluated patterns and predictors of change from three efficacy trials of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral treatments (TF-CBT) among service members (N = 702; mean age = 32.88; 89.4% male; 79.8% non-Hispanic/Latino). Rates of clinically significant change were also compared with other trials.

Method: The trials were conducted in the same setting with identical measures. The primary outcome was symptom severity scores on the PTSD Symptom Scale-Interview Version (PSS-I; Foa, Riggs, Dancu, & Rothbaum, 1993).

Results: Symptom change was best explained by baseline scores and individual slopes. TF-CBT was not associated with better slope change relative to Present-Centered Therapy, a comparison arm in 2 trials. Lower baseline scores (β = .33, p < .01) and higher ratings of treatment credibility (β = -.22, p < .01) and expectancy for change (β = -.16, p < .01) were associated with greater symptom change. Older service members also responded less well to treatment (β = .09, p < .05). Based on the Jacobson and Truax (1991) metric for clinically significant change, 31% of trial participants either recovered or improved.

Conclusions: Clinicians should individually tailor treatment for service members with high baseline symptoms, older patients, and those with low levels of credibility and expectancy for change. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ccp0000426DOI Listing
November 2019

Depression Suppresses Treatment Response for Traumatic Loss-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Active Duty Military Personnel.

J Trauma Stress 2019 10 28;32(5):774-783. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA.

There are multiple well-established evidence-based treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, recent clinical trials have shown that combat-related PTSD in military populations is less responsive to evidence-based treatments than PTSD in most civilian populations. Traumatic death of a close friend or colleague is a common deployment-related experience for active duty military personnel. When compared with research on trauma and PTSD in general, research on traumatic loss suggests that it is related to higher prevalence and severity of PTSD symptoms. Experiencing a traumatic loss is also related to the development of prolonged grief disorder, which is highly comorbid with depression. This study examined the association between having traumatic loss-related PTSD and treatment response to cognitive processing therapy in active duty military personnel. Participants included 213 active duty service members recruited across two randomized clinical trials. Results showed that service members with primary traumatic loss-related PTSD (n = 44) recovered less from depressive symptoms than those who reported different primary traumatic events (n = 169), B = -4.40. Tests of mediation found that less depression recovery suppressed recovery from PTSD symptoms in individuals with traumatic loss-related PTSD, B = 3.75. These findings suggest that evidence-based treatments for PTSD should better accommodate loss and grief in military populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22441DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6800580PMC
October 2019

Guilt in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Active Duty Military Personnel.

J Trauma Stress 2019 08 29;32(4):616-624. Epub 2019 Jul 29.

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

The current study examined the role of trauma-related guilt on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom change during prolonged exposure therapy (PE) as well as the efficacy of PE in reducing three dimensions of guilt (responsibility, wrongdoing, and lack of justification) during treatment. Participants were 331 active duty U.S. military personnel seeking treatment for PTSD who were randomized to one of four groups: massed PE (10 sessions delivered over 2 weeks), spaced PE (10 sessions delivered over 8 weeks), present-centered therapy (PCT; 10 sessions delivered over 8 weeks), or minimal contact control (MCC; weekly therapist phone check-in for 4 weeks). The results showed that baseline guilt did not predict reductions in PTSD symptoms for spaced PE or for PCT, ps = .178-.387, ds = -0.02-0.07. Treatment condition (massed PE vs. MCC; spaced PE vs. PCT) did not moderate reductions in guilt for spaced PE versus PCT. Guilt decreased significantly over treatment in all groups, p < .001 to p = .038, ds = -0.19 to -0.42, except concerning justification in the spaced PE and PCT groups, p = .140, d = -0.10. The findings suggest that guilt may be reduced significantly following active PTSD treatment and attention control and that PTSD recovery is not impacted by baseline levels of trauma-related guilt in military personnel with PTSD, although reported levels of guilt were low to moderate in this sample.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22416DOI Listing
August 2019

Conceptualizing comorbid PTSD and depression among treatment-seeking, active duty military service members.

J Affect Disord 2019 09 30;256:541-549. Epub 2019 Jun 30.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Background: Among active duty service members and veterans with PTSD, depression is the most commonly diagnosed comorbid psychiatric condition. More research is warranted to investigate the relationship between PTSD and depression to improve treatment approaches. Byllesby et al. (2017) used confirmatory factor analyses in a sample of trauma-exposed combat veterans with PTSD and found that only the general distress factor, and not any specific symptom cluster of PTSD, predicted depression. This study seeks to replicate Byllesby et al. (2017) in a sample of treatment-seeking active duty soldiers.

Methods: Confirmatory factor analyses, bifactor modeling, and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used with data gathered at pretreatment and posttreatment as part of a large randomized clinical trial.

Results: Confirmatory factor analyses and bifactor modeling demonstrated that PTSD symptom clusters, Negative Alterations in Cognition and Mood (NACM) and Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity (AAR), as well as the general distress factor significantly predicted depression at pretreatment and posttreatment.

Limitations: The current study was predominantly male, limiting the generalizability to female service members with PTSD. Also, self-report measures were used, which may introduce response-bias.

Conclusions: The current study did not replicate Byllesby et al. (2017). Results demonstrated that the relationship between PTSD and depression among active duty service members can be explained by both transdiagnostic factors and disorder-specific symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.06.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750963PMC
September 2019

Conceptualizing comorbid PTSD and depression among treatment-seeking, active duty military service members.

J Affect Disord 2019 09 30;256:541-549. Epub 2019 Jun 30.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Background: Among active duty service members and veterans with PTSD, depression is the most commonly diagnosed comorbid psychiatric condition. More research is warranted to investigate the relationship between PTSD and depression to improve treatment approaches. Byllesby et al. (2017) used confirmatory factor analyses in a sample of trauma-exposed combat veterans with PTSD and found that only the general distress factor, and not any specific symptom cluster of PTSD, predicted depression. This study seeks to replicate Byllesby et al. (2017) in a sample of treatment-seeking active duty soldiers.

Methods: Confirmatory factor analyses, bifactor modeling, and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used with data gathered at pretreatment and posttreatment as part of a large randomized clinical trial.

Results: Confirmatory factor analyses and bifactor modeling demonstrated that PTSD symptom clusters, Negative Alterations in Cognition and Mood (NACM) and Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity (AAR), as well as the general distress factor significantly predicted depression at pretreatment and posttreatment.

Limitations: The current study was predominantly male, limiting the generalizability to female service members with PTSD. Also, self-report measures were used, which may introduce response-bias.

Conclusions: The current study did not replicate Byllesby et al. (2017). Results demonstrated that the relationship between PTSD and depression among active duty service members can be explained by both transdiagnostic factors and disorder-specific symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.06.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750963PMC
September 2019

Conceptualizing comorbid PTSD and depression among treatment-seeking, active duty military service members.

J Affect Disord 2019 09 30;256:541-549. Epub 2019 Jun 30.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA.

Background: Among active duty service members and veterans with PTSD, depression is the most commonly diagnosed comorbid psychiatric condition. More research is warranted to investigate the relationship between PTSD and depression to improve treatment approaches. Byllesby et al. (2017) used confirmatory factor analyses in a sample of trauma-exposed combat veterans with PTSD and found that only the general distress factor, and not any specific symptom cluster of PTSD, predicted depression. This study seeks to replicate Byllesby et al. (2017) in a sample of treatment-seeking active duty soldiers.

Methods: Confirmatory factor analyses, bifactor modeling, and structural equation modeling (SEM) were used with data gathered at pretreatment and posttreatment as part of a large randomized clinical trial.

Results: Confirmatory factor analyses and bifactor modeling demonstrated that PTSD symptom clusters, Negative Alterations in Cognition and Mood (NACM) and Alterations in Arousal and Reactivity (AAR), as well as the general distress factor significantly predicted depression at pretreatment and posttreatment.

Limitations: The current study was predominantly male, limiting the generalizability to female service members with PTSD. Also, self-report measures were used, which may introduce response-bias.

Conclusions: The current study did not replicate Byllesby et al. (2017). Results demonstrated that the relationship between PTSD and depression among active duty service members can be explained by both transdiagnostic factors and disorder-specific symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2019.06.039DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750963PMC
September 2019

Predictors of attendance and dropout in three randomized controlled trials of PTSD treatment for active duty service members.

Behav Res Ther 2019 07 8;118:7-17. Epub 2019 Mar 8.

Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiological Research and Information Center, VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA; Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address:

Dropout from first-line posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments is a significant problem. We reported rates and predictors of attendance and dropout in three clinical trials of evidence-based PTSD treatments in military service members (N = 557). Service members attended 81.0% of treatment sessions and 30.7% dropped out. Individually delivered treatment was associated with greater attendance rates (β = 0.23, p < .001) than group therapy; trauma-focused treatments were associated with higher dropout (β = 0.19, p < .001) than Present-Centered Therapy. Age was a significant predictor of session attendance (β = 0.17, p < .001) and drop out (β = -0.23, p < .001). History of traumatic brain injury (TBI) predicted lower attendance rates (β = -0.26, p < .001) and greater dropout (β = 0.19, p < .001). Regardless of treatment type or format, patients who did not drop out were more likely to experience clinically significant gains (d = 0.49, p < .001). Results demonstrate that dropout from PTSD treatments in these trials was significantly associated with treatment outcome and suggest that strategies are needed to mitigate dropout, particularly in group and trauma-focused therapies, and among younger service members and those with TBI.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2019.03.003DOI Listing
July 2019

Examination of Treatment Effects on Hazardous Drinking Among Service Members With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

J Trauma Stress 2019 04 28;32(2):310-316. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alcohol use disorder are frequently comorbid and present significant treatment challenges. Unfortunately, since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, the rates of PTSD and hazardous drinking among active duty service members have increased significantly. Previous research on PTSD has typically excluded participants with current substance abuse. However, there is some research examining independent treatments for PTSD and substance abuse provided consecutively, concurrently, or as enhancements to other treatment. The current study examined the association between current hazardous drinking and PTSD treatment among 108 active duty service members with PTSD in a randomized controlled trial of group cognitive processing therapy and group present-centered therapy. Total scores above 8 on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test defined hazardous alcohol use. At baseline, 25.0% of the sample was categorized as hazardous drinkers, and the hazardous and nonhazardous drinking groups did not differ in PTSD symptom severity, F(1, 106) = 0.08, p = .777, d = 0.06. Over the course of treatment, the two groups also did not differ significantly in PTSD symptom severity change on the PTSD Checklist, F(1, 106) = 1.20, p = .280, d = 0.33. Treatment for PTSD did not exacerbate hazardous drinking, and the hazardous drinking group showed significant reductions in drinking following PTSD treatment. Limitations and implications for treatment considerations are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22393DOI Listing
April 2019

Factor Structure and Psychometric Properties of the Peritraumatic and Posttraumatic Emotions Questionnaires Among Active Duty Military Personnel With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

J Trauma Stress 2018 12 12;31(6):826-836. Epub 2018 Dec 12.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, USA.

The Peritraumatic Emotions Questionnaire (Peri-TEQ) and Posttraumatic Emotions Questionnaire (Post-TEQ) are self-report measures of emotions experienced during and after a traumatic event, respectively. The factor structure and psychometric properties of the Peri- and Post-TEQ were investigated among 474 military personnel with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following deployment. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were conducted to test the factor structure of the scales. Internal consistency, composite reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity were also assessed. Four factors were identified for the Peri-TEQ (Fear, Humiliation, Anger, and Sadness), and three factors were identified for the Post-TEQ (Fear, Anger-Hurt, and Humiliation). The full scales and all subscales demonstrated adequate-to-good internal consistency, Cronbach's αs = .722-.893. The subscales demonstrated adequate-to-good composite reliability, Cronbach's αs = .763-.861. The Peri- and Post-TEQ demonstrated good convergent validity with measures of PTSD symptoms, rs = .229-.601, ps < .001, and depressive symptoms, rs = .284-.470, ps < .001, and good discriminate validity with measures of resilience, ps = .116-.940, and unit cohesion, Peri-TEQ, p = .304 and Post-TEQ, r = -.123, p = .008. The Humiliation subscales demonstrated good convergent validity with guilt cognitions, rs = .315-.341, ps < .001, and the Anger subscales demonstrated good convergent validity with state anger, rs = .260-.347, ps < .001. The Peri- and Post-TEQ are reliable, valid self-report measures of emotions during and in response to remembering a trauma. The results support the use of these measures in research investigating trauma-related emotions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22350DOI Listing
December 2018

The pattern of symptom change during prolonged exposure therapy and present-centered therapy for PTSD in active duty military personnel.

Psychol Med 2019 09 17;49(12):1980-1989. Epub 2018 Sep 17.

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA,USA.

Background: Few studies have investigated the patterns of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom change in prolonged exposure (PE) therapy. In this study, we aimed to understand the patterns of PTSD symptom change in both PE and present-centered therapy (PCT).

Methods: Participants were active duty military personnel (N = 326, 89.3% male, 61.2% white, 32.5 years old) randomized to spaced-PE (S-PE; 10 sessions over 8 weeks), PCT (10 sessions over 8 weeks), or massed-PE (M-PE; 10 sessions over 2 weeks). Using latent profile analysis, we determined the optimal number of PTSD symptom change classes over time and analyzed whether baseline and follow-up variables were associated with class membership.

Results: Five classes, namely rapid responder (7-17%), steep linear responder (14-22%), gradual responder (30-34%), non-responder (27-33%), and symptom exacerbation (7-13%) classes, characterized each treatment. No baseline clinical characteristics predicted class membership for S-PE and M-PE; in PCT, more negative baseline trauma cognitions predicted membership in the non-responder v. gradual responder class. Class membership was robustly associated with PTSD, trauma cognitions, and depression up to 6 months after treatment for both S-PE and M-PE but not for PCT.

Conclusions: Distinct profiles of treatment response emerged that were similar across interventions. By and large, no baseline variables predicted responder class. Responder status was a strong predictor of future symptom severity for PE, whereas response to PCT was not as strongly associated with future symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0033291718002714DOI Listing
September 2019

Intensive prolonged exposure therapy for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder: Design and methodology of a randomized clinical trial.

Contemp Clin Trials 2018 09 25;72:126-136. Epub 2018 Jul 25.

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX, USA. Electronic address:

Combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the most common psychological health condition in military service members and veterans who have deployed to the combat theater since September 11, 2001. One of the highest research priorities for the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs is to develop and evaluate the most efficient and efficacious treatments possible for combat-related PTSD. However, the treatment of combat-related PTSD in military service members and veterans has been significantly more challenging than the treatment of PTSD in civilians. Randomized clinical trials have demonstrated large posttreatment effect sizes for PTSD in civilian populations. However, recent randomized clinical trials of service members and veterans have achieved lesser reductions in PTSD symptoms. These results suggest that combat-related PTSD is unique. Innovative approaches are needed to augment established evidence-based treatments with targeted interventions that address the distinctive elements of combat-related traumas. This paper describes the design, methodology, and protocol of a randomized clinical trial to compare two intensive prolonged exposure therapy treatments for combat-related PTSD in active duty military service members and veterans and that can be administered in an acceptable, efficient manner in this population. Both interventions include intensive daily treatment over a 3-week period and a number of treatment enhancements hypothesized to result in greater reductions in combat-related PTSD symptoms. The study is designed to advance the delivery of care for combat-related PTSD by developing and evaluating the most potent treatments possible to reduce PTSD symptomatology and improve psychological, social, and occupational functioning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cct.2018.07.016DOI Listing
September 2018

Distinct Trauma Types in Military Service Members Seeking Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

J Trauma Stress 2018 04;31(2):286-295

Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA.

We examined the frequency of trauma types reported in a cohort of service members seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and compared symptom profiles between types. In this observational study, 999 service members (9.2% women; M = 32.91 years; 55.6% White) were evaluated using a standardized assessment procedure to determine eligibility for clinical trials. Participants were evaluated for DSM-IV-TR-defined PTSD using the PTSD Symptom Scale-Interview; all participants reported a Criterion A event. Independent evaluators rated descriptions of Criterion A events as belonging to trauma types at a high degree of reliability, κ = 0.80. Aggregated non-life-threat primary trauma types were more frequently endorsed than aggregated life-threat types, 95% CI [17.10%, 29.20%]. Participants who endorsed moral injury-self traumas had a higher level of reexperiencing (d = 0.39), guilt (hindsight bias, d = 1.06; wrongdoing, d = 0.93), and self-blame (d = 0.58) symptoms, relative to those who reported life threat-self. Participants who experienced traumatic loss had greater reexperiencing (d = 0.39), avoidance (d = 0.22), guilt (responsibility, d = 0.39), and greater peri- and posttraumatic sadness (d = 0.84 and d = 0.70, respectively) symptoms, relative to those who endorsed life threat-self. Relative to life threat-self, moral injury-others was associated with greater peri- (d = 0.36) and posttraumatic (d = 0.33) betrayal/humiliation symptoms, and endorsement of aftermath of violence was associated with greater peri- (d = 0.84) and posttraumatic sadness (d = 0.57) symptoms. War zone traumas were heterogeneous, and non-life-threat traumas were associated with distinct symptoms and problems.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22276DOI Listing
April 2018

The Influence of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder on Health Functioning in Active-Duty Military Service Members.

J Trauma Stress 2018 04;31(2):307-316

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Researchers have suggested that posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with significant healthcare burden and utilization of medical services. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of PTSD symptoms on health functioning among active-duty military personnel. Participants in the study were 366 treatment-seeking service members who had returned from deployment and were participating in a larger PTSD treatment study. Assessments included measures of PTSD symptom severity, combat experiences, life stress, health functioning, alcohol use, and depression. We hypothesized that at baseline, PTSD severity and its symptom clusters would be significantly associated with poorer physical and mental health functioning. We conducted separate hierarchical multiple regressions to examine the predictive contribution the hypothesized factors would have on the variance in physical and mental health scores. Consistent with previous literature, we found that PTSD severity was significantly associated with poorer mental health functioning, B = -0.25, SE = 0.08, β = -0.15, t(342) = -3.07, R = .37, p = .002; however, contrary to our hypotheses, PTSD severity was not associated with poorer physical health functioning. Further, the hyperarousal symptom cluster was significantly associated with poorer physical health functioning, B = -0.83, SE = 0.26, β = -0.18, t(340) = -3.16, R = .11, p = .002, but not mental health functioning. Limitations of our study included the use of self-report measures only and lack of objective measures. Future directions for study include examination of how health functioning perceptions change over a longer duration of PTSD symptoms and after treatment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22274DOI Listing
April 2018

Effect of Prolonged Exposure Therapy Delivered Over 2 Weeks vs 8 Weeks vs Present-Centered Therapy on PTSD Symptom Severity in Military Personnel: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA 2018 01;319(4):354-364

Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Importance: Effective and efficient treatment is needed for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in active duty military personnel.

Objective: To examine the effects of massed prolonged exposure therapy (massed therapy), spaced prolonged exposure therapy (spaced therapy), present-centered therapy (PCT), and a minimal-contact control (MCC) on PTSD severity.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Randomized clinical trial conducted at Fort Hood, Texas, from January 2011 through July 2016 and enrolling 370 military personnel with PTSD who had returned from Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. Final follow-up was July 11, 2016.

Interventions: Prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy involving exposure to trauma memories/reminders, administered as massed therapy (n = 110; 10 sessions over 2 weeks) or spaced therapy (n = 109; 10 sessions over 8 weeks); PCT, a non-trauma-focused therapy involving identifying/discussing daily stressors (n = 107; 10 sessions over 8 weeks); or MCC, telephone calls from therapists (n = 40; once weekly for 4 weeks).

Main Outcomes And Measures: Outcomes were assessed before and after treatment and at 2-week, 12-week, and 6-month follow-up. Primary outcome was interviewer-assessed PTSD symptom severity, measured by the PTSD Symptom Scale-Interview (PSS-I; range, 0-51; higher scores indicate greater PTSD severity; MCID, 3.18), used to assess efficacy of massed therapy at 2 weeks posttreatment vs MCC at week 4; noninferiority of massed therapy vs spaced therapy at 2 weeks and 12 weeks posttreatment (noninferiority margin, 50% [2.3 points on PSS-I, with 1-sided α = .05]); and efficacy of spaced therapy vs PCT at posttreatment.

Results: Among 370 randomized participants, data were analyzed for 366 (mean age, 32.7 [SD, 7.3] years; 44 women [12.0%]; mean baseline PSS-I score, 25.49 [6.36]), and 216 (59.0%) completed the study. At 2 weeks posttreatment, mean PSS-I score was 17.62 (mean decrease from baseline, 7.13) for massed therapy and 21.41 (mean decrease, 3.43) for MCC (difference in decrease, 3.70 [95% CI,0.72 to 6.68]; P = .02). At 2 weeks posttreatment, mean PSS-I score was 18.03 for spaced therapy (decrease, 7.29; difference in means vs massed therapy, 0.79 [1-sided 95% CI, -∞ to 2.29; P = .049 for noninferiority]) and at 12 weeks posttreatment was 18.88 for massed therapy (decrease, 6.32) and 18.34 for spaced therapy (decrease, 6.97; difference, 0.55 [1-sided 95% CI, -∞ to 2.05; P = .03 for noninferiority]). At posttreatment, PSS-I scores for PCT were 18.65 (decrease, 7.31; difference in decrease vs spaced therapy, 0.10 [95% CI, -2.48 to 2.27]; P = .93).

Conclusions And Relevance: Among active duty military personnel with PTSD, massed therapy (10 sessions over 2 weeks) reduced PTSD symptom severity more than MCC at 2-week follow-up and was noninferior to spaced therapy (10 sessions over 8 weeks), and there was no significant difference between spaced therapy and PCT. The reductions in PTSD symptom severity with all treatments were relatively modest, suggesting that further research is needed to determine the clinical importance of these findings.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01049516.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.21242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5833566PMC
January 2018

Cognitive Emotion Regulation Strategies Associated With the DSM-5 Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Criteria.

J Trauma Stress 2017 08 30;30(4):343-350. Epub 2017 Jun 30.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Maladaptive cognitive emotion regulation strategies have been proposed to contribute to the maintenance of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prior work has focused on the relationship between these strategies and PTSD as a whole, rather than on how they are related to each PTSD symptom cluster. The purpose of the current study was to determine whether cognitive emotion regulation strategies are predictive of certain PTSD symptom clusters under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th ed. (DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) criteria (intrusive thoughts, avoidance, negative alterations in cognitions and mood, and hyperarousal). Participants included 365 treatment-seeking, active-duty military personnel with PTSD. The negative alterations in cognitions and mood cluster were associated with dysfunctional cognitions: greater negative cognitions about the self, negative cognitions about the world, and self-blame, as well as catastrophizing (Rc2 = .519). The negative alterations in cognitions and mood cluster did not show a strong relationship with blaming others, possibly due to the complex nature of self- and other-blame in this primarily deployment-related PTSD sample. Finally, the intrusive thoughts cluster was associated with catastrophizing (Rc2 = .211), suggesting an association between frequent intrusive memories and excessively negative interpretation of those memories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jts.22202DOI Listing
August 2017

Caffeine Use in Military Personnel With PTSD: Prevalence and Impact on Sleep.

Behav Sleep Med 2019 Mar-Apr;17(2):202-212. Epub 2017 Jun 13.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

: Caffeine use is highly prevalent among active duty military personnel and can be beneficial to performance in the short term. However, regular caffeine use has been found to contribute to sleep disturbances, which are elevated among the significant number of military personnel with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The current study is the first to examine caffeine use and its relationship with sleep disturbances in military personnel seeking treatment for PTSD. : Active duty military personnel ( = 366) who had returned from deployments to Afghanistan or Iraq and were seeking treatment for PTSD. : Pearson correlations were used to examine the relationships between caffeine use, sleep disturbances, and PTSD symptom clusters. : The majority of the sample (89%) reported some caffeine use, with coffee being the largest contributor to total caffeine intake. Contrary to hypotheses, higher caffeine use was associated with lower insomnia symptom severity; follow-up analysis indicated that this was due to elevated insomnia symptom severity in those reporting no caffeine use. Caffeine use was not associated with any other measures of sleep disturbance or with PTSD symptoms. : Caffeine use was not associated with greater reported sleep disturbances in this sample, possibly because those with elevated insomnia symptom severity abstained from any caffeine, or because insomnia symptoms were elevated in this sample.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15402002.2017.1326920DOI Listing
July 2020

Ethnoracial differences in PTSD symptoms and trauma-related cognitions in treatment-seeking active duty military personnel for PTSD.

Psychol Trauma 2017 Nov 9;9(6):741-745. Epub 2017 Jan 9.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania.

Objective: It is uncertain whether ethnoracial factors should be considered by clinicians assessing and treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among service members. The purpose of this study was to shed light on ethnoracial variation in the presentation of PTSD symptoms, trauma-related cognitions, and emotions among treatment-seeking active duty military personnel.

Method: Participants were 303 male active duty military members with PTSD participating in a clinical trial (60% were self-identified as White, 19% as African American, and 21% as Hispanic/Latino). In the parent study, participants completed a baseline assessment that included clinician-administered and self-report measures of PTSD, trauma-related cognitions, and emotions.

Results: Multivariate hierarchical regression models were used to examine ethnoracial differences in these variables, covarying age, education, military grade, combat exposure, and exposure to other potentially traumatic events. Hispanic/Latino and African American participants reported more reexperiencing symptoms, more fear, and more guilt and numbing than White participants. All effect sizes were in the small to medium range.

Conclusions: These findings suggest ethnoracial variation in PTSD symptom burden and posttraumatic cognitions among treatment-seeking service members with PTSD. Attending to cultural factors related to differences in PTSD presentation and cognitive coping strategies during the assessment and treatment process could increase rapport and lead to more comprehensive trauma processing. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000242DOI Listing
November 2017