A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on the efficacy and tolerability of sertraline in Iranian veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

Y Panahi, B Rezazadeh Moghaddam, A Sahebkar, M Abbasi Nazari, F Beiraghdar, G Karami, A R Saadat
Psychological Medicine 2011, 41 (10): 2159-66

BACKGROUND: Unlike civilian post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the efficacy of sertraline for the treatment of combat-related PTSD has not yet been proven. The present study aimed to evaluate the clinical efficacy of sertraline against combat-related PTSD in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

METHOD: Seventy Iranian veterans of the Iran-Iraq war who met the DSM-IV criteria for diagnosis of PTSD were randomized to receive either flexibly dosed sertraline (50-200 mg/day) (n=35, completers=32) or placebo (n=35, completers=30) for 10 weeks. Efficacy was evaluated by the Impact of Event Scale--Revised (IES-R) and the Clinical Global Impression scale--Severity (CGI-S) and Improvement (CGI-I) ratings. Responder criteria were defined as a ≥30% reduction in the IES-R total score plus a CGI-I rating of 'much' or 'very much' improved.

RESULTS: On both intention-to-treat (ITT) and per protocol (completer) methods of analysis, the mean reductions in the IES-R total and subscale (re-experiencing/intrusion, avoidance/numbing and hyperarousal) scores (p<0.001) and also in the CGI-S score (p<0.01) were significantly greater in the sertraline group than in the placebo group. For the CGI-I, the mean endpoint score was significantly lower in the sertraline group than in the placebo group (p≤0.001). The number of responders in the sertraline group was significantly higher than in the placebo group (44% v. 3%, p≤0.001). Sertraline was well tolerated, with a 6% discontinuation rate as a result of adverse reactions.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that sertraline can be an effective, safe and tolerable treatment for combat-related PTSD in Iranian veterans.

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