Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in U.S. combat veterans: a meta-analytic review

Psychol Rep. 2011 Oct;109(2):573-99. doi: 10.2466/


Among U.S. veterans who have been exposed to combat-related trauma, significantly elevated rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are reported. Veterans with PTSD are treated for the disorder at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals through a variety of psychotherapeutic interventions. Given the significant impairment associated with PTSD, it is imperative to assess the typical treatment response associated with these interventions. 24 studies with a total sample size of 1742 participants were quantitatively reviewed. Overall, analyses showed a medium between-groups effect size for active treatments compared to control conditions. Thus, the average VA-treated patient fared better than 66% of patients in control conditions. VA treatments incorporating exposure-based interventions showed the highest within-group effect size. Effect sizes were not moderated by treatment dose, sample size, or publication year. Findings are encouraging for treatment seekers for combat-related PTSD in VA settings.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders / psychology
  • Combat Disorders / therapy*
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Desensitization, Psychologic / methods
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing / methods
  • Hospitals, Veterans
  • Humans
  • Implosive Therapy / methods
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology*