Brief Novel Therapies for PTSD—Treatment of PTSD in Primary Care

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The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among patients in primary care clinics is higher than that of the general population and many people prefer to get mental health care in primary care, creating a unique opportunity to identify and treat the disorder. Current treatment guidelines recommend psychotherapy as a first-line treatment for PTSD; however, there is a limited amount of research examining effective psychotherapy treatment protocols for PTSD within primary care. This review aims to examine the existing literature for the treatment of PTSD in primary care and discuss ongoing dissemination efforts for primary care mental health providers.

Recent findings

Prolonged Exposure for Primary Care (PE-PC) has adapted the traditional PE model for use in primary care. We conducted the first randomized controlled trial examining the effectiveness of a PTSD treatment protocol for primary care (PE-PC) among active duty service members with PTSD which demonstrated significant decreases in PTSD symptomology compared with a control group. Service members receiving PE-PC showed significantly larger reductions in self-reported PTSD symptoms in PE-PC compared with minimal attention control and were more likely to no longer meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD following the four-session intervention.


While there is limited research examining the treatment of PTSD within primary care, PE-PC has demonstrated efficacy. This intervention provides a proven effective PTSD treatment option for primary care that promises to expand access to patients who are likely to never follow through to complete care in another setting (such as specialty mental health). Additional clinical trials are underway to replicate and expand results. Implementation and dissemination efforts are ongoing and under empirical examination as well within DoD, VA, and civilian primary care settings.

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