Cognitive therapy or imaginal exposure in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Twelve-month follow-up.
N Tarrier, C Sommerfield, H Pilgrim, L Humphreys


BACKGROUND Previously reported results have demonstrated the efficacy of exposure and cognitive therapy in the treatment of chronic post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but have not shown one to be superior to the other.

AIMS To investigate whether treatment benefits and equivalence are maintained at 12-month follow-up in patients with chronic PTSD treated with either imaginal exposure or cognitive therapy.

METHOD Twelve-month follow-up of a randomised clinical trial.

RESULTS Fifty-four subjects (87% of the sample) were available to follow-up. They did not significantly differ clinically from drop-outs. There was significant clinical improvement at 12 months compared with pre-treatment. However, 39% of those followed-up still met criteria for PTSD. There were no significant differences between the two treatments. Victims of crime displayed higher levels of symptoms at follow-up than victims of accidents.

CONCLUSIONS Clinical benefits for exposure or cognitive therapy were maintained.