Clinical practice guideline can help inform health care providers’ and patients’ treatment plans for PTSD
WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association has launched a comprehensive online resource to help psychologists and other mental health professionals, primary care providers, patients and families learn about evidence-based treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder.
This resource, available on APA’s website, includes APA’s Clinical Practice Guideline for the Treatment of PTSD in Adults (www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline), along with training materials and case examples for clinicians and practical information for patients and their families. Features include:
• Information for clinicians on recommended interventions
• PTSD assessment instruments used in the studies that informed the clinical practice guideline
• Case examples of treatment interventions
• Resources for patients and families to help them understand PTSD, its causes, its effects and treatment options
“The guideline and accompanying resources are intended for people who have or think they may have PTSD and for anyone who interacts with individuals with PTSD, whether you’re a primary clinician, a professional referring someone for care or a family member who is trying to figure out what are effective approaches for treating PTSD,” said APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “By making this information accessible online, we’re hoping that more people recognize that there are effective, evidenced-based treatments for PTSD and will seek out those options.”
The guideline, developed by a multidisciplinary panel of scientists, clinicians and community members, recommends interventions for treating PTSD in adults. Recommendations are based on a systematic review of scientific evidence, a weighing of the benefits and harms of interventions, consideration of what is known about patient values and preferences, and consideration of the applicability of the evidence across demographic groups and settings. The guideline was approved and adopted by APA’s Council of Representatives in February.
The guideline makes recommendations on the efficacy of both psychological and pharmacological interventions for PTSD. The recommendations are not intended to be mandates or to supplant clinician judgment, but to help guide health care providers and their patients in making decisions about treatment options.
The guideline recommends eight interventions for treating adults with PTSD, four of which are “strongly recommended” and four of which are “conditionally recommended,” based on the strength and comprehensiveness of the scientific evidence. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing patterns of behaviors, thoughts and feelings that lead to difficulties in functioning, narrative exposure therapy, which helps individuals establish a life narrative to contextualize their experience, other psychotherapies and medications.
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person is exposed to a terrifying event or ordeal with the potential for or actual occurrence of grave physical harm. These can include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents and military combat. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal. They may also experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled. Approximately 3.5 percent of the American adult population experiences PTSD during a 12-month period, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Several programs on the PTSD guideline are slated for APA’s Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., this week at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center:
APA’s Clinical Practice Guideline for PTSD: Overview of Recommended Evidence-Based Treatments, Wednesday, Aug. 2, 1 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.
From Concept to Practice: Development and Use of Professional and Clinical Practice Guidelines, Saturday, Aug. 5, 10 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.
Clinical Practice Guidelines— Methods, Relevance and Future Directions
Saturday, Aug. 5, 12 p.m. – 1:50 p.m.
More information on these sessions is available in the online convention program.