Benchmarking secondary outcomes to posttraumatic stress disorder symptom change in response to cognitive processing and written exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder

Stoycos, S. A., Straud, C. L., Stanley, I. H., Marx, B. P., Resick, P. A., Young-McCaughan, S., Peterson, A. L., & Sloan, D. M., for the STRONG STAR Consortium
Dec 2, 2023

Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 100, Article 102794.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has high comorbidity with other psychiatric conditions, including depression, generalized anxiety, and suicidality. Evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for PTSD are effective at reducing PTSD symptoms. However, evidence on the impact of PTSD EBTs on comorbid conditions is mixed and often uses pre-post analyses, which disregards PTSD symptom response. This study replicated and extended prior work on benchmarking quality of life to PTSD symptom response to a broader range of secondary outcomes using a researchbased metric of clinically meaningful PTSD symptom change. Ninety-five active duty military members seeking treatment for PTSD participated in a randomized noninferiority trial examining two cognitive behavioral therapies for PTSD: Written Exposure Therapy and Cognitive Processing Therapy. Participants completed clinician-administered and self-rating assessments at baseline and 10 weeks post-first treatment session and were classified as PTSD treatment responders or nonresponders. Data were analyzed using generalized linear mixed effects models with repeated measures with fixed effects of time and PTSD symptom response category. PTSD treatment responders experienced significant improvements in secondary outcomes; nonresponders demonstrated statistically significant, but not clinically meaningful, comorbid symptom change. Our findings provide evidence that successfully treating PTSD symptoms may also positively impact psychiatric comorbidity.