BMC Psychiatry, 22, Article 41.
Trauma-focused psychotherapies for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military veterans are efficacious, but there are many barriers to receiving treatment. The objective of this study was to determine if cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for PTSD among active duty military personnel and veterans would result in increased acceptability, fewer dropouts, and better outcomes when delivered In-Home or by Telehealth as compared to In-Office treatment.
The trial used an equipoise-stratified randomization design in which participants (N = 120) could decline none or any 1 arm of the study and were then randomized equally to 1 of the remaining arms. Therapists delivered CPT in 12 sessions lasting 60-min each. Self-reported PTSD symptoms on the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5) served as the primary outcome.
Over half of the participants (57%) declined 1 treatment arm. Telehealth was the most acceptable and least often refused delivery format (17%), followed by In-Office (29%), and In-Home (54%); these differences were significant (p = 0.0008). Significant reductions in PTSD symptoms occurred with all treatment formats (p < .0001). Improvement on the PCL-5 was about twice as large in the In-Home (d = 2.1) and Telehealth (d = 2.0) formats than In-Office (d?=?1.3); those differences were statistically large and significant (d = 0.8, 0.7 and p = ?0.009, 0.014, respectively). There were no significant differences between In-Home and Telehealth outcomes (p = 0.77, d = -.08). Dropout from treatment was numerically lowest when therapy was delivered In-Home (25%) compared to Telehealth (34%) and In-Office (43%), but these differences were not statistically significant.
Conclusions and Relevance
CPT delivered by telehealth is an efficient and effective treatment modality for PTSD, especially considering in-person restrictions resulting from COVID-19.