Treatment of traumatized victims of war and torture: a randomized controlled comparison of narrative exposure therapy and stress inoculation training

D Hensel-Dittmann, M Schauer, M Ruf, C Catani, M Odenwald, T Elbert, F Neuner
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 2011, 80 (6): 345-52

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present randomized controlled trial was to compare the outcome of 2 active treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a consequence of war and torture: narrative exposure therapy (NET) and stress inoculation training (SIT).

METHODS: Twenty-eight PTSD patients who had experienced war and torture, most of them asylum seekers, received 10 treatment sessions of either NET or SIT at the Outpatient Clinic for Refugees, University of Konstanz, Germany. Posttests were carried out 4 weeks after treatment, and follow-up tests were performed 6 months and 1 year after treatment. The main outcome measure was the PTSD severity score according to the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) at each time point.

RESULTS: A significant reduction in PTSD severity was found for NET, but not for SIT. A symptom reduction in the NET group occurred between pretest and the 6-month follow-up examination, the effect size being d = 1.42 (for SIT: d = 0.12), and between pretest and the 1-year follow-up, the effect size being d = 1.59 (for SIT: d = 0.19). The rates and scores of major depression and other comorbid disorders did not decrease significantly over time in either of the 2 treatment groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that exposure treatments like NET lead to a significant PTSD symptom reduction even in severely traumatized refugees and asylum seekers.

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