Cognitive-behavior therapy vs exposure therapy in the treatment of PTSD in refugees

Behav Res Ther. 2001 Oct;39(10):1183-97. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(00)00093-0.


The present study investigated the efficacy of cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy (E) in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in refugees. Sixteen outpatients fulfilling the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD were randomized to one of the two treatments. Assessor and self-report measures of PTSD-symptoms, generalized anxiety, depression, quality of life and cognitive schemas were administered before and after treatment, and at a 6-month follow-up. The patients were treated individually for 16-20 weekly sessions. The results showed that both treatments resulted in large improvements on all the measures, which were maintained at the follow-up. There was no difference between E and CBT on any measure. E and CBT led to a 48 and 53% reduction on PTSD-symptoms, respectively, a 49 and 50% reduction on generalized anxiety, and a 54 and 57% reduction on depression. The results were maintained at the 6-month follow-up. The conclusion that can be drawn is that both E and CBT can be effective treatments for PTSD in refugees.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Desensitization, Psychologic*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome