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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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 η2 = 0.808). The treatment outcome was not significantly different across age groups (partial η2 = 0.002). There were no significant differences in treatment response across age groups for the follow-up subsample (pre- to post-treatment partial η2 < 0.001; post-treatment to follow-up partial η2 = 0.006), and the large decrease in CAPS-5 scores from preto post-treatment (partial η2 = 0.76) was maintained at follow-up (partial η2 = 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
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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