Comparing the Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Other Forms of Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Adults
Presented at the Spring 2015 Student Research Day at Chapman University.
Recent wars, terrorist attacks, school shootings, natural disasters, and everyday interpersonal conflicts have drawn more attention to the pervasive effects of trauma. Among the most prevailing and debilitating consequences of exposure to traumatic events is posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While there are several evidence-based PTSD treatments designed to improve quality of life and lower the disorder's cost to society, the comparative effectiveness of these treatments has yet to be determined. The objective of this thesis research was to compare different approaches for treating PTSD. Based on the dynamics of the disorder and its treatment, it was hypothesized that cognitive-behavioral therapy would be more effective than other forms of treatment in reducing PTSD symptoms in adults with the disorder. Using meta-analytical techniques, recent empirical studies from research databases were reviewed and assessed. All studies included in this analysis tested the effectiveness of various PTSD treatments on adults by comparing changes in disorder symptoms prior to and at the conclusion of different treatments. Overall, the findings supported the hypothesis, but the support was not unequivocal. Many current PTSD treatments are effective in improving disorder symptoms in adults, but cognitive-behavioral therapy is currently the most effective treatment. Studies on less popular PTSD treatments such as eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) and acupuncture show promising results, but further research is necessary to confirm the effectiveness of alternative treatments. Future research on PTSD treatments is needed to empirically examine a wider array of effective treatment options for adults with the disorder.