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Review: psychotherapy, somatic therapy and pharmacotherapy are all more effective than control for the treatment of PTSD

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Question: What is the efficacy of different treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?

Outcomes: Change in PTSD symptoms as measured by the individual trials. When available, preference was given to assessments made using the clinician-administered PTSD Scale or PTSD Symptom Scale-Interview version; if this was not available, participant self-report measures were used.


Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: PubMed, MEDLINE, PILOTS, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library were searched for articles published between January 1980 and April 2012, supplemented by hand search of reference lists of included studies and previous meta-analyses.

Study selection and analysis: Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) comparing at least one active treatment with a control in adults aged 18 or over with a Diagnostic and Statistic Manual-confirmed diagnosis of PTSD. Studies were grouped into top-level treatment categories (psychotherapy, somatic therapy and pharmacotherapy) then further subdivided, allowing authors to compare effects across and within therapy categories. Effect sizes were calculated for the between-group difference in pretreatment and post-treatment score changes using Hedges g correction for small sample sizes. Effect sizes were pooled …

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  • Sources of funding: US Department of Veterans Affairs and US Department of Defense.


  • Competing interests None.