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Prevention of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) With Early Hydrocortisone Treatment: Pilot

The recruitment status of this study is unknown. The completion date has passed and the status has not been verified in more than two years.
Verified January 2009 by Kent State University.
Recruitment status was:  Recruiting
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Information provided by:
Kent State University Identifier:
First received: January 10, 2008
Last updated: January 27, 2009
Last verified: January 2009
People experience a wide range of outcomes following a traumatic event. Although rates differ depending on type of trauma, 20-60% of trauma victims may develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, not all trauma victims develop PTSD. Previous research has found that trauma victims who develop PTSD excrete lower levels of urinary cortisol immediately after a trauma than victims who do not develop PTSD. Other research has suggested that increasing levels of cortisol may protect against the development of PTSD in patients such as yourself- but this has not yet been examined. Cortisol is a naturally occurring hormone in your body, and the present study is designed to test whether increasing cortisol levels can protect against or decrease symptoms of PTSD. Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. Participants will receive either hydrocortisone (20mg, twice per day) or a placebo (a sugar pill) for 10 days with a six-day taper. There is an equal chance of being in either treatment group, and neither the participant nor the experimenters will know which treatment was received (except in case of an emergency).

Condition Intervention
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Drug: Hydrocortisone Drug: placebo

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double (Participant, Investigator)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: Prevention of PTSD With Early Hydrocortisone Treatment: Pilot

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by Kent State University:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) [ Time Frame: one- and three-months post-trauma ]

Estimated Enrollment: 65
Study Start Date: June 2005
Estimated Study Completion Date: November 2009
Estimated Primary Completion Date: August 2009 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Placebo Comparator: 1
receipt of a placebo pill for 16 days
Drug: placebo
receipt of a placebo pill for 16 days
Active Comparator: 2
oral pill of hydrocortisone (ranging from 20mg - 2.5mg) taken for 10 days with a taper for 6 days (based on Pitman et al, 2002).
Drug: Hydrocortisone
Participants will receive a tapering low-dose of hydrocortisone in pill form for 10 days, twice a day, after the trauma.
Other Names:
  • Cortisol
  • Cortef
  • Hydrocortone

  Show Detailed Description


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • involved in a traumatic event and admitted to the level 1 trauma center within 12 hours after the trauma

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Glasgow coma scale score of less than 14 (at the time that you speak to patient)
  • Amnestic for the events during and immediately following the traumatic event
  • Unable to understand consent procedure or current substance abuse
  • Traumatic event occurred more than 12 hours before initial medication dose can be given (i.e., patient life-flight or transferred after significant time has passed).
  • Allergy to cortisol.
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Traumatic event of potentially ongoing nature that the participant is likely to be re-exposed to during the study (e.g. domestic violence)
  • Presence of injuries (e.g. pelvic or lower extremity fractures) requiring readmission for surgery 1-2 weeks later once swelling has diminished. Patients requiring such delayed operative procedures will be excluded.
  • Presence of medical condition that contraindicates the administration of cortisol, including (but not necessarily limited to) peptic ulcers, Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, current alcoholism or cirrhosis, hepatitis, diverticulitis, nonspecific ulcerative colitis, myasthenia gravis, seizure disorders, renal insufficiency, disorders of immunosuppression, current viral or bacterial infection, diabetes mellitus, history of myocardial infarction, or recipient of solid organ or bone marrow transplant.
  • On a current corticosteroid regimen (inhaled, oral, or injection). This may include patients with asthma, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, allergic conditions, optic neuritis, or tuberculosis
  • Corticosteroid use in the previous 6 months
  • Current use of medications that may have potentially dangerous interactions with cortisol including other corticosteroids, any immunosuppressant medications, drugs affecting hepatic microsomal enzymes, cyclosporine, and anticholinesterase agents.
  • Injuries requiring treatment with steroids (e.g., suspected spinal cord injury, cerebral edema).
  • Patients must be able to take oral medications within 12 hours post-trauma.
  Contacts and Locations
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, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00597857

Contact: Douglas L Delahanty, PhD (330) 672-2395

United States, Ohio
Akron City Hospital Recruiting
Akron,, Ohio, United States, 44309
Contact: William Wallon, MD    330-971-1721   
Sub-Investigator: William Fallon, MD         
Sponsors and Collaborators
Kent State University
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Principal Investigator: Doulas L Delahanty, PhD Kent State University
  More Information

Delahanty, D.L., Royer, D.K., Spoonster, E., & Raimonde, A.J. (2003). Peritraumatic dissociation is inversely related to catecholamine levels in initial urine samples of motor vehicle accident victims. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 4, 65-80.

Responsible Party: Douglas L. Delahanty, PhD, Kent State University Identifier: NCT00597857     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 05-025
R34MH073014 ( U.S. NIH Grant/Contract )
Study First Received: January 10, 2008
Last Updated: January 27, 2009

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Stress Disorders, Traumatic
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
Trauma and Stressor Related Disorders
Mental Disorders
Hydrocortisone 17-butyrate 21-propionate
Cortisol succinate
Hydrocortisone acetate
Anti-Inflammatory Agents processed this record on September 21, 2017