A University of Cincinnati
professor is one of three leading investigators in a national study that is comparing two treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
The 17-site, $9 million study will take about three years to complete, and it will involve approximately 500 veterans at VA medical facilities across the country, says UC Clinical Psychiatry Professor Kathleen Chard.
Researchers will compare two proven PTSD treatments:
Prolonged Exposure (PE),
which allows patients to work through painful memories by re-experiencing traumatic events in safe and supportive environments, and to engage in activities they've avoided because of trauma. Prolonged exposure also emphasizes education about treatment, common reactions to trauma and breath retraining.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT),
which focuses on patients' thoughts and feelings. This approach emphasizes how traumatic experiences changed the patients' thoughts and beliefs, and how those thoughts influence current feelings and behaviors. Patients identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts through structured therapy sessions and practice assignments.
The Institute of Medicine
and the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences
have endorsed both PSTD treatments, which are used for both military and civilian patients. One of the study's goals will be to determine which treatment works better when a patient has other problems, like depression or substance abuse.
Chard is co-author of the CPT military/veteran manual and the national CPT implementation director for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"Both are gold standard treatments, but what we don't know is, if I have patient 'X,' which one should I put them in," she says. "What we have now is informed patient choice. We tell them about the treatments and they can decide what to do. We don't have solid research about what works best."
Chard is also director of UC's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience PTSD division, which is based at the Cincinnati Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center
facility in Ft. Thomas. It likely will be one of the 17 testing sites.
The findings of the study will have an impact that reaches beyond treatment for members of the military, as PTSD has been diagnosed in people who have never been in the miliary, but who have seen or lived through dangerous events, including survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents and natural disasters.
By Feoshia H. Davis
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