A Randomized Pilot Study of CBT Anger Treatment for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans

OBJECTIVE: Anger and aggression are serious problems for a significant proportion of veterans who have served in combat. While prior research has suggested that cognitive behavioral treatments may be effective for anger problems, there are few controlled studies of anger treatment in veterans and no studies of anger treatment focusing exclusively on veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. This randomized pilot study compared an adapted cognitive behavioral intervention (CBI) to a supportive intervention (SI) control condition for the treatment of anger problems in veterans returning from deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan.

METHODS: 25 veterans with warzone trauma, problems with anger, and one or more additional hyperarousal symptoms were randomized and 23 started treatment (CBI, n = 12; SI, n = 11). Outcome measures were administered at pre- and post- treatment and at 3 months post-treatment.

RESULTS: CBI was associated with significantly more improvement than SI on measures of anger and interpersonal functioning. Gains were maintained at follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that CBI may be more effective than an active control providing psychoeducation, relaxation, and supportive therapy for treating anger problems in returning veterans. The findings need to be replicated in an adequately powered and more diverse sample.

Shea, M. T., Lambert, J., & Reddy, M. K. (2013). A randomized pilot study of anger treatment for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 51, 10, 607-13.

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