A meta-analytic review of prolonged exposure for posttraumatic stress disorder

Mark B Powers, Jacqueline M Halpern, Michael P Ferenschak, Seth J Gillihan, Edna B Foa
Clinical Psychology Review 2010, 30 (6): 635-41
Two decades of research demonstrate the efficacy of exposure therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The efficacy of prolonged exposure (PE), a specific exposure therapy program for PTSD that has been disseminated throughout the world, has been established in many controlled studies using different trauma populations. However, a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of PE for PTSD has not been conducted to date. The purpose of the current paper is to estimate the overall efficacy of PE for PTSD relative to adequate controls. We included all published randomized controlled trials of PE vs. control (wait-list or psychological placebo) for the treatment of PTSD in adolescents or adults. Treatments were classified as PE if they included multiple sessions of imaginal and in vivo exposure and were based on the manualized treatment developed by Foa, Rothbaum, Riggs, and Murdock (1991). Thirteen studies with a total sample size of 675 participants met the final inclusion criteria. The primary analyses showed a large effect for PE versus control on both primary (Hedges's g=1.08) and secondary (Hedges's g=0.77) outcome measures. Analyses also revealed medium to large effect sizes for PE at follow-up, both for primary (Hedges's g=0.68) and secondary (Hedges's g=0.41) outcome measures. There was no significant difference between PE and other active treatments (CPT, EMDR, CT, and SIT). Effect sizes were not moderated by time since trauma, publication year, dose, study quality, or type of trauma. The average PE-treated patient fared better than 86% of patients in control conditions at post-treatment on PTSD measures. PE is a highly effective treatment for PTSD, resulting in substantial treatment gains that are maintained over time.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"