A randomized clinical trial of cognitive processing therapy for veterans with PTSD related to military sexual trauma

J Trauma Stress. 2013 Feb;26(1):28-37. doi: 10.1002/jts.21765. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


In this randomized controlled clinical trial, the authors evaluated the effectiveness of cognitive processing therapy (CPT) in the treatment of self-reported and clinician-assessed posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to military sexual trauma (MST), along with depressive symptoms. Eighty-six veterans (73 female, 13 male) randomly assigned to receive 12 individual sessions of either CPT or present-centered therapy (PCT) were included in analyses. Blinded assessments occurred at baseline, posttreatment, and 2, 4, and 6 months posttreatment. Mixed-effects model analysis revealed a significant interaction between groups (p = .05, d = -0.85): At posttreatment, veterans who received CPT had a significantly greater reduction in self-reported, but not clinician-assessed, PTSD symptom severity compared to veterans who received PCT. All three primary outcome measures improved significantly, both clinically and statistically, across time in both treatment groups. Pre- and posttreatment effect sizes were mostly moderate to large (d = 0.30-1.02) and trended larger in the CPT group. Although the study was impacted by treatment fidelity issues, results provide preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of CPT in reducing self-reported PTSD symptoms in a population of veterans with MST, expanding on established literature that has demonstrated the effectiveness of CPT in treating PTSD related to sexual assault in civilian populations.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00371644.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Combat Disorders / diagnosis
  • Combat Disorders / psychology
  • Combat Disorders / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Rape / psychology*
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00371644