Comorbid Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury: Generalization of Prolonged-Exposure PTSD Treatment Outcomes to Postconcussive Symptoms, Cognition, and Self-Efficacy in Veterans and Active Duty Service Members

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Abstract

Objectives:

To examine (a) generalization of the effectiveness of prolonged exposure (PE) therapy for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in improving postconcussive symptoms (PCSs) and other outcomes in military service members and Veterans (VA) with histories of mild to severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), and (b) factors associated with PCS reduction.

Setting:

VA polytrauma medical center.

Participants:

Consecutive referrals for PTSD treatment of Active Duty (n = 17) or Veterans (n = 27) diagnosed with PTSD and TBI (N = 44).

Main Outcome Measures:

Neurobehavioral Symptom Inventory, Key Behaviors Change Inventory, Self-Efficacy for Symptom Management, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist, and Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd edition.

Design:

Post hoc analysis of archival clinical effectiveness program evaluation data.

Interventions:

PE for PTSD.

Results:

There were significant improvements on all outcome measures with large effect sizes (Cohen's d ranging from 0.68 to 2.02). Improvement on PCS (Cohen's d = 1.21) was associated with lower levels of VA service-connected disability and PE treatment completion.

Conclusion:

PE treatment-related improvements for participants with comorbid PTSD and TBI generalize from PTSD outcomes to PCS and other TBI-related outcomes. Positive outcomes were independent of TBI severity, treatment setting, or Veteran status, but dependent upon PE treatment completion and lower levels of VA service-connected disability.

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