Quick Take: Effect of Developmentally Adapted Cognitive Processing Therapy for Youth With Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After Childhood Sexual and Physical Abuse

There is a lack of evidence-based treatments for abuse-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescents. Cognitive processing therapy (CPT) has been studied for adult PTSD, but has not been extensively tested in youth. In this randomized controlled trial, investigators randomized 88 adolescents with abuse-related PTSD to developmentally adapted CPT (D-CPT) or a wait-list condition with treatment advice (WL/TA) in order to study the efficacy of D-CPT in treating PTSD in adolescents. Investigators found that both groups had a reduction in PTSD symptom severity as defined by the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA) score, but that the D-CPT group had a better outcome (mean CAPS-CA score at post-treatment assessment of 24.7 (95% CI 16.6 to 32.7) vs. 47.5 (95% CI 37.9 to 57.1) for D-PT and WL/TA, respectively). In terms of secondary outcomes, self-reported PTSD symptom severity (as defined by UCLA-PTSD-RI score) improved for both groups with greater improvement for the D-PT group (mean scores at post-treatment assessment of 18.1 (95% CI 12.4 to 23.8) vs. 35.1 (95% CI 29.0 to 41.2) for D-PT and WL/TA groups, respectively). Together, the results from this study indicate that D-PT may be efficacious in treating PTSD in adolescents. It should be noted that this study had a predominantly female (85%) participant population and excluded patients with substance dependence and severe life-threatening behaviors. Further studies are needed to generalize the results from this study.

Click to read the study in JAMA Psychiatry

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