The impact of prior head injury on outcomes following group and individual cognitive processing therapy among military personnel

Wachen, J. S., Mintz, J., LoSavio, S. T., Kennedy, J. E., Hale, W. J., Straud, C. L., Dondanville, K. A., Moring, J., Blankenship, A. E., Vandiver, R., Young-McCaughan, S., Yarvis, J. S., Peterson, A. L., & Resick, P. A., for the STRONG STAR Consortium
Dec 3, 2022

Journal of Traumatic Stress, 35(6), 1684-1695.

This study examined the impact of a history of head injury (HHI) on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms in active duty military personnel following group and individual cognitive processing therapy (CPT). Data for these secondary analyses were drawn from a clinical trial comparing group and individual CPT. Service members (N = 268, 91.0% male) were randomized to 12 sessions of group (n = 133) or individual (n = 135) CPT. Most participants (57.1%) endorsed a deployment-related HHI, 92.8% of whom reported currently experiencing symptoms (CES) related to the head injury (i.e., HHI/CES). Patients classified as non-HHI/CES demonstrated large, significant improvements in PTSD symptom severity in both individual and group therapy, ds = 1.1, p < .001. Patients with HHI/CES status showed similar significant improvements when randomized to individual CPT, d = 1.4, p < .001, but did not demonstrate significant improvements when randomized to group CPT, d = 0.4, p = .060. For participants classified as HHI/CES, individual CPT was significantly superior to group CPT, d = 0.98, p = .003. Symptoms of depression improved following treatment, with no significant differences by treatment delivery format or HHI/CES status. The findings of this clinical trial subgroup study demonstrate evidence that group CPT is less effective than individual CPT for service members classified as HHI/CES. The results suggest that HHI/CES status may be important to consider in selecting patients for group or individual CPT; additional research is needed to confirm the clinical implications of these findings.