Working… Menu

Treatment for Veterans With Military Sexual Trauma

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00371644
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : September 4, 2006
Results First Posted : December 16, 2014
Last Update Posted : January 15, 2015
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
VA Office of Research and Development ( US Department of Veterans Affairs )

Brief Summary:
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) versus Present-Centered Therapy (PCT) in treating current post-traumatic stress symptoms associated with sexual assault that occurred while veterans were serving in the military.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic Depressive Symptoms Anxiety Symptoms Quality of Life Behavioral: Cognitive Processing Therapy Behavioral: Present-Centered Therapy Not Applicable

Detailed Description:

This study is designed to provide insight into effective treatment of veterans with current Post Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] that resulted from sexual assault that occurred during their active military duty [MST]. This issue is of critical importance, as (1) Congress mandated VA to provide counseling to veterans with sexual trauma. (2) Based on the national MST surveillance data of 1.7 million VA patients, 22% of women and 1% of men have experienced MST. (3) With 20,000 Operation Iraqi Freedom [OIF] veterans having already sought healthcare since deployment, VA will begin to serve a higher percentage of women from combat zones, where the epidemiology of sexual assault and the efficacy of conventional treatments are essentially unknown. Finally, (4) findings from our MST-Study of 270 women veterans strongly suggests that MST is clinically different from civilian adult or child sexual trauma, bringing into question whether conventional civilian-based treatment will be effective with MST veterans.

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) is a therapy developed to treat civilian rape-related PTSD. The efficacy of CPT has been shown with female civilians with sexual assault histories. However, there has not been any research examining the effectiveness of CPT in treating symptoms associated with sexual assault that occurs in military settings. The difference clinically between sexual assault in civilian and military settings is important, as revealed by our clinical experience and empirical findings. In working with veterans with MST for over 13 years we have noted that the assaults are often perpetrated by trusted military personnel and the victim is often without access to immediate treatment or care. Empirically, our research demonstrates that MST is associated with higher rates of PTSD compared to civilian sexual assault.

The primary goal of the study is to evaluate the effectiveness of CPT treatment versus Present Centered Therapy (PCT) for PTSD and associated symptoms resulting from MST. The study objectives will be met by three levels of hypotheses. Hypotheses focus on the primary outcome (PTSD symptoms), confirmatory outcomes (depression symptoms, quality of life), and exploratory outcomes (cost and utilization). Based on the results of the study, we intend to produce an educational CD-ROM, which will include a training manual to educate practitioners on the use of the more effective treatment with veterans. It will be designed for administration by clinicians who represent a range of disciplines (e.g., psychologists, nurses, social workers) and levels of training (e.g., bachelor through doctoral degrees).

This is a randomized controlled clinical trial involving veterans from the VA North Texas Healthcare System (VANTHCS). Data will be obtained from face-to-face interview and written questionnaires at baseline, treatment completion, 2-month, 4-month, and 6-month follow-ups. Patients will be randomized to one of two conditions (CPT or PCT). Patients will receive biweekly sessions of the respective individual therapy from trained therapists for a 6-week period (total of 12 sessions), followed by scheduled assessments. The primary endpoint is the CAPS score, a measure of PTSD severity. Secondary endpoints include anxiety, depression, quality of life, and healthcare utilization.

Layout table for study information
Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 129 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Manualized Treatment for Veterans With Military Sexual Trauma
Study Start Date : February 2007
Actual Primary Completion Date : June 2010
Actual Study Completion Date : June 2011

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

Arm Intervention/treatment
Experimental: Arm 1
Participants receive 12 biweekly sessions of Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT).
Behavioral: Cognitive Processing Therapy
CPT is a cognitive therapy based on information processing theory and includes components which help the client to (a) access her or his memory of the event, (b) identify and experience her or his emotions until they have been extinguished, and (c) identify and challenge beliefs about the event itself and beliefs about self and the world which have been altered because of the rape.
Other Name: CPT

Active Comparator: Arm 2
Participants receive 12 biweekly sessions of Present Centered Therapy (PCT).
Behavioral: Present-Centered Therapy
PCT consists of general support and education focused on current issues in the patient's life. It emphasizes the focus on the individual's current life, and conceptualizes the problems addressed as manifestations of PTSD that, in some cases, may have been present for long periods of time. Emphasis is on problem solving and improving relationships. Connections are made between current problems and PTSD symptoms. PCT provides the emotional support for the trauma patient that is thought to help in recovery and helps the victim gain a better understanding of the nature of the patient's problems and connection with PTSD.
Other Name: PCT

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. PTSD Checklist (PCL) [ Time Frame: Baseline assessment and then 4, follow-up assessments: at treatment completion, 2-month post treatment, 4-month post treatment, and 6-month post treatment ]
    The PCL is a 17-item self-report measure that is commonly used in clinical and research settings. All 17 items are summed to compute a total score of PTSD symptomatology. Scores for the PCL range from 17-85, with 85 indicating severe PTSD symptomatology. The PCL has strong psychometric properties and mirrors the symptomatology of the DSM.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

Layout table for eligibility information
Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Veteran (female or male) from any era with a current diagnosis of PTSD due to MST
  • Experienced MST no less than 3 months prior to entering the trial
  • Identify that MST is the trauma that is causing the worst current distress (if other traumas also experienced)
  • Have at least one clear memory of the trauma (sufficient to write impact statement)
  • Consent to be randomized into treatment
  • Not receive other psychotherapy during the 6 weeks of active treatment
  • (if on psychoactive medications) if new antidepressant, be on stable medication regimen for a minimum of 6 weeks prior to entering the trial (if recent changes to antidepressant dosage or additions or changes of antipsychotic or anti-anxiety medication, eligible immediately)

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Current substance dependence
  • Prior substance dependence that has not been in remission for at least 3 months
  • Any current psychotic symptoms
  • Current mania or unstable Bipolar Disorder
  • Prominent current suicidal or homicidal features
  • Any severe cognitive impairment or history of Organic Mental Disorder
  • Current involvement in a violent relationship

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00371644

Layout table for location information
United States, Texas
VA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas
Dallas, Texas, United States, 75216
Sponsors and Collaborators
US Department of Veterans Affairs
Layout table for investigator information
Principal Investigator: Alina M Suris, PhD VA North Texas Health Care System, Dallas

Publications of Results:
Publications automatically indexed to this study by Identifier (NCT Number):
Layout table for additonal information
Responsible Party: US Department of Veterans Affairs Identifier: NCT00371644     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: D4445-R
IRB 06-036 ( Other Grant/Funding Number: VA RR&D )
First Posted: September 4, 2006    Key Record Dates
Results First Posted: December 16, 2014
Last Update Posted: January 15, 2015
Last Verified: January 2015
Keywords provided by VA Office of Research and Development ( US Department of Veterans Affairs ):
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Cognitive Processing Therapy
Military sexual trauma
Psychology, Military
Veterans, psychology
Healthcare utilization
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Layout table for MeSH terms
Stress Disorders, Traumatic
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Mental Disorders
Behavioral Symptoms