Taylor & Francis Group
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Evidence-based treatment for adult women with child abuse-related Complex PTSD: a quantitative review

posted on 2023-01-06, 13:01 authored by Ethy Dorrepaal, Kathleen Thomaes, Adriaan W. Hoogendoorn, Dick J. Veltman, Nel Draijer, Anton J. L. M. van Balkom

Effective first-line treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are well established, but their generalizability to child abuse (CA)-related Complex PTSD is largely unknown.

A quantitative review of the literature was performed, identifying seven studies, with treatments specifically targeting CA-related PTSD or Complex PTSD, which were meta-analyzed, including variables such as effect size, drop-out, recovery, and improvement rates.

Only six studies with one or more cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) treatment conditions and one with a present centered therapy condition could be meta-analyzed. Results indicate that CA-related PTSD patients profit with large effect sizes and modest recovery and improvement rates. Treatments which include exposure showed greater effect sizes especially in completers’ analyses, although no differential results were found in recovery and improvement rates. However, results in the subgroup of CA-related Complex PTSD studies were least favorable. Within the Complex PTSD subgroup, no superior effect size was found for exposure, and affect management resulted in more favorable recovery and improvement rates and less drop-out, as compared to exposure, especially in intention-to-treat analyses.

Limited evidence suggests that predominantly CBT treatments are effective, but do not suffice to achieve satisfactory end states, especially in Complex PTSD populations. Moreover, we propose that future research should focus on direct comparisons between types of treatment for Complex PTSD patients, thereby increasing generalizability of results.