Long-term outcomes of psychological treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder : a systematic review and meta-analysis

Several types of psychological treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are considered well established and effective, but evidence of their long-term efficacy is limited.


This systematic review and meta-analysis aimed to investigate the long-term outcomes across psychological treatments for PTSD. MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, PTSDpubs, PsycINFO, PSYNDEX, and related articles were searched for randomized controlled trials with at least 12 months of follow-up. Twenty-two studies (N = 2638) met inclusion criteria, and 43 comparisons of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) were available at follow-up. Active treatments for PTSD yielded large effect sizes from pretest to follow-up and a small controlled effect size compared with non-directive control groups at follow-up. Trauma-focused treatment (TFT) and non-TFT showed large improvements from pretest to follow-up, and effect sizes did not significantly differ from each other.


Active treatments for comorbid depressive symptoms revealed small to medium effect sizes at follow-up, and improved PTSD and depressive symptoms remained stable from treatment end to follow-up. Military personnel, low proportion of female patients, and self-rated PTSD measures were associated with decreased effect sizes for PTSD at follow-up. The findings suggest that CBT for PTSD is efficacious in the long term. Future studies are needed to determine the lasting efficacy of other psychological treatments and to confirm benefits beyond 12-month follow-up.

Maxi Weber, Sarah Schumacher, Wiebke Hannig, Jürgen Barth, Annett Lotzin, Ingo Schäfer, Thomas Ehring, Birgit Kleim | 2021
In: Psychological Medicine ; ISSN: 0033-2917 | 51 | 9 | june | 1420-1430
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Comorbidity, Depressive Symptoms, Meta Analysis, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Psychotrauma, PTSD (en), Systematic Review, Treatment