Can asylum-seekers with posttraumatic stress disorder be successfully treated? A randomized controlled pilot study

Cogn Behav Ther. 2010;39(2):81-91. doi: 10.1080/16506070903121042.


Rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are exceptionally high among asylum-seekers. Reportedly, stressors caused by the asylum procedure and psychological consequences of torture contribute to the maintenance of symptoms and interfere with treatment. In a pilot randomized controlled trial, the authors examined the efficacy of trauma-focused treatment in 32 asylum-seekers with PTSD resulting from state-sponsored violence and other traumatic events. Narrative exposure therapy (NET) was compared with treatment as usual (TAU), with a focus on stabilization and psychoactive medication. Six months after treatment, a significant reduction of posttraumatic stress symptoms was found in the NET participants but not in the TAU group. Although treatment gains were moderate, these results indicate that NET is a promising approach for the treatment of PTSD in asylum-seekers living in unstable conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Implosive Therapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Refugees / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Torture / psychology*