Comparing Intensive Trauma-Focused Treatment Outcome on PTSD Symptom Severity in Older and Younger Adults

E.M.J. Gielkens*, A. de Jongh, S. Sobczak, G. Rossi, A. van Minnen, E.M. Voorendonk, L. Rozendaal, S.P.J. van Alphen

*Corresponding author for this work

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2 Citations (Web of Science)


Objective: To examine the treatment outcome of an intensive trauma-focused treatment program for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in older and younger adults. Methods: A non-randomized outcome study was conducted with 62 consecutively admitted older PTSD patients (60-78 years) and 62 younger PTSD patients (19-58 years), matched on gender and availability of follow-up data. Patients participated in an intensive eight-day trauma-focused treatment program consisting of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), prolonged exposure (PE), physical activity, and group psycho-education. PTSD symptom severity (Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale-5 (CAPS-5)) was assessed, at pre- and post-treatment, and for a subsample (n = 31 older; n = 31 younger patients) at six-month follow-up. Results: A repeated-measures ANCOVA (centered CAPS pre-treatment score as covariate) indicated a significant decrease in CAPS-5-scores from pre- to post-treatment for the total sample (partial eta(2) = 0.808). The treatment outcome was not significantly different across age groups (partial eta(2) = 0.002). There were no significant differences in treatment response across age groups for the follow-up subsample (pre- to post-treatment partial eta(2) < 0.001; post-treatment to follow-up partial eta(2) = 0.006), and the large decrease in CAPS-5 scores from pre- to post-treatment (partial eta(2) = 0.76) was maintained at follow-up (partial eta(2) = 0.003). Conclusion: The results suggest that intensive trauma-focused treatment is applicable for older adults with PTSD with a large within-effect size comparable to younger participants. Further research on age-related features is needed to examine whether these results can be replicated in the oldest-old (>80).
Original languageEnglish
Article number1246
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • intensive treatment
  • older adults
  • trauma-focused treatment
  • prolonged exposure
  • EMDR therapy
  • LIFE
  • AGE
  • EMDR

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