Exploring the feasibility and acceptance of huddinge online prolonged exposure therapy (HOPE) for severe and complex PTSD

Background: Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy such as prolonged exposure is considered firsthand choice for treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but is seldom available in regular care. Digital therapy is proposed to bridge this gap, but its effectiveness for severe and complex PTSD is uncertain. The primary objective of the current study was to examine the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of digital therapist-guided prolonged exposure (Huddinge Online Prolonged Exposure; HOPE).

Method: Thirty participants with moderate to severe PTSD, with the majority self-reporting complex PTSD symptoms, received HOPE over a ten-week period. Eighty percent of participants had been diagnosed with other psychiatric comorbidity by a mental health professional. Primary outcome was the feasibility and acceptability of treatment. Participants were repeatedly assessed using clinician- and self-rated outcome measures at baseline, during the treatment period, post-treatment, and at 1-month and 6-month follow-ups to estimate preliminary treatment effects. The Clinician Administered PTSD Scale version 5 (CAPS-5), administered by independent assessors, evaluated PTSD symptom severity.

Results: HOPE proved feasible and effective, delivering evidence-based treatment content in a psychiatric outpatient setting with reduced therapist time. The treatment was well-tolerated, with no severe adverse events and a 17% dropout rate. Sixty-four percent completed the exposure-based portion of the treatment, and overall satisfaction measured by the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire was moderate. Furthermore, significant reductions in PTSD symptoms as assessed with the CAPS-5 (Cohen's d = 1.30 [95% CI −1.79 to −0.82]) at the primary endpoint 1 month which were sustained at the 6-month follow up.

Conclusion: Altogether, this study indicate feasibility of treating severe and complex PTSD through a digital PE intervention, thereby building upon and extending previous research findings. Large-scale controlled trials are needed to further validate the specific effect and long-term benefits of HOPE.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT05560854.


  • HOPE, a digital therapist-guided prolonged exposure programme, demonstrated feasibility and preliminary effects for severe and complex PTSD in a psychiatric outpatient setting, while requiring less therapist time.
  • HOPE was well-tolerated by participants, with a relatively low dropout rate and average overall satisfaction.
  • Significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were observed, and these benefits were sustained at the 6-month follow-up.
Maria Bragesjö, Volen Z. Ivanov, Erik Andersson & Christian Rück | 2024
In: European Journal of Psychotraumatology ; ISSN: 2000-8066 | 15 | 1 | maart | 2320607
Adults, Assessment, Comorbidity, Exposure Therapy (en), Internet Therapy, Mental health, Narrative therapy, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (DSM-5), PTSD (en), Randomized Clinical Trial, Statistical Analysis, Telemedicine, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Treatment