Developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy was found to be more effective than another treatment modality, wait-list condition with treatment advice, in adolescents with abuse-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to results from a study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Researchers conducted a multicenter, randomized clinical study of 88 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 years who had PTSD secondary to childhood abuse (mean age, 18.1 years; 85% female). Participants were treated with developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy or wait-list condition with treatment advice, and clinical outcomes were evaluated 8 weeks after commencing treatment, at the end of therapy, and 3 months posttreatment. The primary outcome was PTSD symptom severity, which was measured using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.

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After analysis, the researchers found that patients treated with developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy (n=44) showed better improvement in PTSD symptom severity than those who received wait-list condition with treatment advice (n=44; mean scores, 24.7 [95% CI, 16.6-32.7] vs 47.5 [95% CI, 37.9-57.1]; Hedges g=.90). In addition, they reported that these improvements continued when assessed at 3 months posttreatment (mean scores, 25.9 [95% CI, 16.2-35.6] vs 47.3 [95% CI, 37.8-56.8]; Hedges g=80).

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One key limitation of the study was the small sample size.

“Young people with abuse-related PTSD experienced greater benefit from [developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy] than from [wait-list condition with treatment advice],” the researchers noted. “In future studies, dismantling designs should be used to further address the question as to whether emotion regulation training should precede trauma-focused interventions in this age group,” they concluded.


Rosner R, Rimane E, Frick U, et al. Effect of developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy for youth with symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder after childhood sexual and physical abuse: a randomized clinical trial [published online April 10, 2019]. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4349