Comparing intensive trauma-focused treatment outcome on PTSD symptom severity in older and younger adults

Ellen Gielkens, A. de Jongh, Sjacko Sobczak, Gina Rossi, A. van Minnen, E.M. Voorendonk, L. Rozendael, S. P. J. van Alphen

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OBJECTIVE: To examine the treatment outcome of an intensive trauma-focused treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in older and younger adults.

METHODS: A non-randomized outcome study was conducted with 62 consecutively admitted older PTSD patients (60-78 years) and 62 younger PTSD patients (19-58 years), matched on gender and availability of follow-up data. Patients participated in an intensive eight-day trauma-focused treatment program consisting of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), prolonged exposure (PE), physical activity, and group psycho-education. PTSD symptom severity (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale-5 (CAPS-5)) was assessed, at pre- and post-treatment, and for a subsample ( n = 31 older; n = 31 younger patients) at six-month follow-up.

RESULTS: A repeated-measures ANCOVA (centered CAPS pre-treatment score as covariate) indicated a significant decrease in CAPS-5-scores from pre- to post-treatment for the total sample (partial η 2 = 0.808). The treatment outcome was not significantly different across age groups (partial η 2 = 0.002). There were no significant differences in treatment response across age groups for the follow-up subsample (pre- to post-treatment partial η 2 < 0.001; post-treatment to follow-up partial η 2 = 0.006), and the large decrease in CAPS-5 scores from pre- to post-treatment (partial η 2 = 0.76) was maintained at follow-up (partial η 2 = 0.003).

CONCLUSION: The results suggest that intensive trauma-focused treatment is applicable for older adults with PTSD with a large within-effect size comparable to younger participants. Further research on age-related features is needed to examine whether these results can be replicated in the oldest-old (>80).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1246
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


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