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Dissemination of Evidence-Based Treatments for PTSD: Barriers and Accomplishments

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) presents as a significant public health challenge because of its pervasive effects on mental health, physical health, and psychosocial problems. A recent review published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, evaluates the effectiveness of prolonged exposure (PE) and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for individuals with PTSD. Although studies indicate that these treatments are efficacious for various populations, many individuals with PTSD do not receive evidence-based treatments (EBTs). The present review investigates barriers to be addressed in order to promote dissemination of EBTs for PTSD in developed and developing countries. Specifically, the authors review examples of dissemination models, discuss possible solutions, and suggest future steps in disseminating EBTs for PTSD. Improved dissemination of EBTs for PTSD is necessary in order to increase accessibility of successful treatments.

Foa, E. B., Gillihan, S. J., & Bryant, R. A. (2013). Challenges and successes in dissemination of evidence-based treatments for posttraumatic stress: Lessons learned from prolonged exposure therapy for PTSD. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Supplement, 14(2), 65-111.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy and other Evidenced Based Treatments are New Standards for Certain Sleep Disorders

After a consensus meeting in May 2009, members of the British Association for Psychopharmacology set new guidelines for treatment of certain sleep disorders.  These guidelines established evidence-based treatment as the leading model of therapy for insomnia, parasomnias, and circadian rhythm disorders.  The results were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. Among the evidenced-based treatment protocols was Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT).  CBT was recommended as a primary treatment for chronic insomnia.  CBT was also recommended during the tapering of long-term hypnotic drugs, since it has been proven to be effective in improving outcomes.  Behavioral strategies were specifically recommended for children with sleep problems. The decision by the British Association for Psychopharmacology to update guidelines for certain sleep disorders illustrates the efficacy of evidence-based treatments such as CBT.

The Effectiveness of Evidence-Based Treatment in Combating Multiple Anxiety Disorders

researchlogo72x65bl-new.jpgA recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association compared the effectiveness of Evidence-Based Treatment against usual care for multiple types of anxiety disorders.  The participants consisted of 1004 patients with varying anxiety disorders including panic, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder in 17 primary care clinics in 4 US cities.The researchers used a Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) to measure both anxiety and somatic symptoms.  These initial scores were compared with follow-up measurements taken after 6, 12 and 18 months of either Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management (CALM) or usual care.

The CALM model allowed participants in the intervention group to choose between Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), medication alone, or CBT combined with medication. Real-time web-based outcomes monitoring was also incorporated to optimize treatment decisions, as well as a computer-assisted program to optimize the delivery of CBT.

Results showed that CALM techniques were significantly more effective than usual care in reducing global anxiety symptoms.  Patients undergoing CALM treatment had significantly reduced scores on the Brief Symptom Inventory.  These patients also had higher response and remission rates.   Response was defined as at least a 50% reduction on the BSI or meeting the definition of remission.  Remission was defined as an anxiety score between none and mild.

The results of this trial illustrate the effectiveness of Evidence-Based Treatment, specifically Coordinated Anxiety Learning and Management in real-world practice settings. CALM proved to be more effective than usual care for multiple types of anxiety disorders.  This trial indicated that Evidence-Based Treatment may be of greater help to patients with anxiety disorders than those measures currently being used.

Roy-Byrne, P., Craske, M. G., Sullivan, G., Rose, R. D., Edlund, M. J., Lang, A. J., Bystritsky, A., Welch, S. S., Chavira, D. A., Golinelli, D., Campbell-Sills, L., Sherbourne, C. D., & Stein, M. B.  (2010).  Delivery of evidence-based treatment for multiple anxiety disorders in primary care.  The Journal of the American Medical Association, 303, 1921-1928.