Physiological response to combat memories and preliminary treatment outcome in Vietnam veteran PTSD patients treated with direct therapeutic exposure

  • Boudewyns P
  • Hyer L
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Abstract

Two individual treatment conditions for PTSD in Vietnam veterans were compared: direct therapeutic exposure (DTE) was compared to conventional one-on-one counseling (controls). All patients received an intensive group treatment milieu program in a VA inpatient treatment program specifically designed for PTSD. Physiological responses to imaginal exposure scenes of stressful memories of combat were recorded. These physiological measures were taken prior to treatment, and immediately following treatment. Three physiological responses were evaluated: heart rate, frontalis electromyography and skin conductance. All three measures indicated strong responding to the exposure scenes at both pre-and post-treatment. While there were no significant differences between the treatment conditions in physiological responding after therapy, there were trends that indicated that the DTE group had decreased physiological responding to the exposure scenes when compared to controls that could prove significant at planned follow-up. Subjects were also given a preliminary psychological and behavioral evaluation to determine treatment outcome at three months following treatment. This evaluation indicated that the DTE treated group improved when compared to controls. Results supported the notion that those subjects who did evidence decreased physiological responding to the imaginal scenes immediately following treatment, also improved psychologically at three months follow-up when compared to subjects who did not have reduced physiological responding, regardless of treatment received. © 1990 Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy. All rights reserved.

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Authors

  • Patrick A. Boudewyns

  • Lee Hyer

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