Pretreatment relationship characteristics predict outcomes from an uncontrolled trial of intenstive, multi-couple group PTSD treatment

Fredman, S. J., Le, Y., Monson, C. M., Mogle, J. A., Macdonald, A., Blount, T. H., Hall-Clark, B. N., Fina, B. A., Dondanville, K. A., Mintz, J., Litz, B. T., Young-McCaughan, S., Yarvis, J. S., Keane, T. M, & Peterson, A . L., for the Consortium to Alleviate PTSD
Feb 14, 2024

Journal of Family Psychology. Advance online publication.

Cognitive behavioral conjoint therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (CBCT for PTSD; Monson & Fredman, 2012) is associated with improvements in patients’ and partners’ mental health and relationship satisfaction. Some pretreatment relationship characteristics have predicted CBCT for PTSD outcomes for patients, but findings were limited to a single community sample consisting primarily of female patients with male partners. A better understanding of whether pretreatment relationship characteristics predict outcomes in other patient populations and whether there are partners who may be particularly responsive to couple therapy for PTSD could optimize treatment matching. This study investigated whether pretreatment partner accommodation and relationship satisfaction predicted patient and partner treatment outcomes from an uncontrolled trial of an abbreviated, intensive, multicouple group version of CBCT for PTSD conducted with 24 active-duty military or veteran couples (96% male patients/female partners). In general, changes in patients’ PTSD and comorbid symptoms and relationship satisfaction did not vary by pretreatment partner accommodation or patients’ own pretreatment relationship satisfaction. In contrast, pretreatment relationship characteristics predicted partner outcomes. Partners who engaged in higher levels of accommodation pretreatment and partners who reported lower levels of pretreatment relationship satisfaction experienced greater declines in psychological distress following treatment. Also, partners who began the study relationally distressed exhibited significant increases in relationship satisfaction following treatment, whereas those who were not relationally distressed did not. Findings suggest that improvements generally do not vary by pretreatment relationship characteristics for patients, whereas partners who begin treatment withelevated relationship risk factors may be especially likely to experience improvement across outcomes.