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Kehle-Forbes SM, Nelson D, Norman SB, Schnurr PP, Shea MT, Ackland PE, Meis L, Possemato K, Polusny MA, Oslin D, Hamblen JL, Galovski T, Kenny M, Babajide N, Hagedorn H. Comparative effectiveness of trauma-focused and non-trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD among veterans with comorbid substance use disorders: Protocol & rationale for a randomized clinical trial. Contemporary clinical trials. 2022 Sep 1; 120:106876.
BACKGROUND: Co-occurrence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUDs) is common and concurrent treatment is recommended. Relatively little is known about which evidence-based psychotherapies for PTSD are most effective for patients with varying substance use profiles. We aim to examine the comparative effectiveness of trauma-focused therapy (TFT) and non-trauma-focused therapy (NTFT) among Veterans with PTSD and SUD. TFT has been found to be effective among those with PTSD/SUD, though effects are smaller and rates of treatment non-completion are higher than in those without SUD. NTFTs suggested for the treatment of PTSD, such as Present Centered Therapy, (PCT) have not been examined among those with co-occurring SUD, despite lower rates of treatment dropout. We will also examine the comparative effectiveness of TFT and NTFT for patients with varying SUD severity, type of substances used, and patient treatment preference. METHOD: 420 Veterans with PTSD and SUD will be randomized in a prospective, pragmatic comparative effectiveness trial at 14 Veterans Health Administration facilities. Participants will receive either TFT (Prolonged Exposure or Cognitive Processing Therapy) or NTFT (PCT) after enrolling in concurrent SUD treatment-as-usual. Assessments will occur at baseline, posttreatment, 3- and 6 -months posttreatment. Main outcomes are PTSD symptom severity and PTSD treatment dropout. Clinician, patient, and leadership stakeholder panels advise study activities, and a process evaluation will identify strategies to enhance the implementation of evidence-based PTSD treatments in SUD care settings. CONCLUSIONS: Results will provide critical information to guide clinicians when recommending PTSD treatments to patients with comorbid SUD. CLINICALTRIALS: gov Identifier: NCT04581434.