Narrative exposure therapy for political imprisonment-related chronic posttraumatic stress disorder and depression

Behav Res Ther. 2007 Sep;45(9):2212-20. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2006.12.006. Epub 2007 Jan 5.


The psychological consequences of traumatic stress may last even into old age. In persons in their 60s and 70s who had been victims of political detention and torture four decades ago, we compared the outcome of narrative exposure therapy (NET) to that of psychoeducation (PED) only. From a group of 59 former political detainees, 18 who fulfilled the full PTSD criteria according to the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) were offered and accepted participation in the treatment study. The participants were randomly assigned to either one session of PED (n=9) or five sessions of NET (n=9). Symptoms of PTSD (CIDI) and depression (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI) were assessed prior to treatment and after a 6-month follow-up. NET but not PED produced a significant reduction in post-traumatic symptoms and depression scores. Four out of 9 of those who completed NET, compared to 8/9 of those within the PED group, still had PTSD 6 months after the treatment had ended. These results indicate that NET may lead to the alleviation of post-traumatic and depression symptoms even when the conditions persist for excessive time periods.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Politics
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Survivors / psychology
  • Treatment Outcome