Feasibility of Training Frontline Therapists in Prolonged Exposure: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study of Treatment of Complex Trauma in Diverse Victims of Crime and Violence

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The study aims were to determine whether prolonged exposure (PE) improved mental health and was feasible to implement by frontline clinicians in a culturally diverse sample with complex trauma. Seventy-one individuals were randomly assigned to PE or person-centered therapy (PCT). Outcome measures were administered at baseline and sessions 3, 6, 9, and 12. Mixed modeling was used to regress outcome measures on time, treatment group, and number of visits. Individuals who received PE showed significant moderate association with decline in reported posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms as noted by the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (p = 0.05) compared with PCT. Results indicated improved scores on all measures at each follow-up time point compared with baseline (p ≤ 0.01). PE was feasible, shown by positive recruitment and ability of clinicians to effectively implement and maintain treatment fidelity. Findings suggest that PE can be effective for treating complex trauma when used by clinicians in community settings.

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