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

Miles, S. R., Dillon, K. H., Jacoby, V. M., Hale, W. J., Dondanville, K. A., Wachen, J. S., Yarvis, J. S., Peterson, A. L., Mintz, J., Litz, B. T., Young-McCaughan, S., & Resick, P. A., on behalf of the STRONG STAR Consortium.
Nov 16, 2019

Journal of Clinical Psychology, 76(3), 493-507.

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.

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.

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.

PTSD treatments reduced anger and aggression with effects similar to anger and aggression treatments; innovative psychotherapies are needed.