Efficacy of interpersonal therapy-group format adapted to post-traumatic stress disorder: an open-label add-on trial

Rosaly F B Campanini, Aline F Schoedl, Mariana C Pupo, Ana Clara H Costa, Janice L Krupnick, Marcelo F Mello
Depression and Anxiety 2010, 27 (1): 72-7

BACKGROUND: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a highly prevalent condition, yet available treatments demonstrate only modest efficacy. Exposure therapies, considered by many to be the "gold-standard" therapy for PTSD, are poorly tolerated by many patients and show high attrition. We evaluated interpersonal therapy, in a group format, adapted to PTSD (IPT-G PTSD), as an adjunctive treatment for patients who failed to respond to conventional psychopharmacological treatment.

METHODS: Research participants included 40 patients who sought treatment through a program on violence in the department of psychiatry of Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). They had received conventional psychopharmacological treatment for at least 12 weeks and failed to have an adequate clinical response. After signing an informed consent, approved earlier by the UNIFESP Ethics Review Board, they received a semi-structured diagnostic interview (SCID-I), administered by a trained mental health worker, to confirm the presence of a PTSD diagnosis according to DSM-IV criteria. Other instruments were administered, and patients completed out self-report instruments at baseline, and endpoint to evaluate clinical outcomes.

RESULTS: Thirty-three patients completed the trial, but all had at least one second outcome evaluation. There were significant improvements on all measures, with large effect sizes.

CONCLUSIONS: IPT-G PTSD was effective not only in decreasing symptoms of PTSD, but also in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. It led to significant improvements in social adjustment and quality of life. It was well tolerated and there were few dropouts. Our results are very preliminary; they need further confirmation through randomized controlled clinical trials.

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