Predictors of Outcome and Residual Symptoms Following Trauma‐Focused Psychotherapy in Police Officers With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Police officers exposed to potentially traumatic events (PTE) are at a heightened risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Little is known about trauma‐focused psychotherapy outcomes in the police. In this naturalistic study, we evaluated whether PTE exposure and baseline clinical characteristics predicted PTSD symptom reduction during treatment and residual PTSD symptoms posttreatment. In consecutive referrals to a specialized mental health service for police officers (N = 665), PTSD was measured pre‐ and posttreatment using structured clinical interviews. 

Treatment consisted of brief eclectic psychotherapy for PTSD. We grouped PTE as follows: injury/maltreatment, loss (colleague or private), other job‐related, other private traumatic events. Data were analyzed multivariably using structural equation modeling and logistic regression. Treatment effect size was large, d = 3.6, 95% CI [3.4, 3.8]. Police officers who reported more injury/maltreatment or private traumatic had more baseline PTSD symptoms as well as larger symptom reduction during treatment; police officers who reported more losses of loved ones showed smaller PTSD symptom reduction. Concentration problems persisted in 17.7% of police officers posttreatment, and these were predicted by baseline PTSD symptoms and loss of loved ones. 

Proportions of variance explained by the multivariable models ranged from 0.08 to 0.14. Our findings increase insight into the type of PTE and clinical characteristics of police officers with PTSD who benefit most from trauma‐focused treatment. Because loss of loved ones can be presumed to have a profound impact on social and interpersonal functioning, a more specific treatment focus on grief processes may further enhance efficacy.

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Geert E. Smid, Christianne A. I. van der Meer, Miranda Olff and Mirjam J. Nijdam | 2018
In: Journal of Traumatic Stress, ISSN 0894-9867 ; eISSN 0894-9867 | 31 | 5 | 764–774
Bereavement, Brief Eclectic Psychotherapy, Police Personnel, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD (DSM-5), Treatment