Randomized controlled equivalence trial comparing videoconference and in person delivery of cognitive processing therapy for PTSD

J Telemed Telecare. 2016 Jun;22(4):238-43. doi: 10.1177/1357633X15596109. Epub 2015 Jul 30.


Introduction: In an effort to improve access to and utilization of health care, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) continues to investigate the effectiveness of video-teleconferencing (VTC) technologies for service delivery. While previous research focused on the efficacy of VTC treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam era veterans, few studies have evaluated the efficacy of this modality and treatment for the Iraq/Afghanistan era veterans. The aim of this randomized clinical trial was to evaluate equivalence between in person and VTC psychotherapy for PTSD in this newer cohort.

Methods: Veterans of the Iraq/Afghanistan conflict from two VHA hospitals in the United States were recruited and randomized to receive cognitive processing therapy (CPT) for PTSD either in person (IP) or over VTC. Clinician-administered and self-report measures were collected before, during, and after treatment.

Results: A trend was observed which suggested that CPT over VTC may be equivalent to the treatment delivered in person, as suggested by previous studies. Regardless of treatment, veterans who received the intervention in both conditions reported significant decreases on post-treatment measures.

Discussion: This study highlighted research and clinical challenges in providing services to the newest veteran generation in general as well as unique challenges with VTC. One complicating factor to the statistical power of this study was a treatment dropout rate twice the original estimate. Factors that could have influenced this high dropout rate are explored.

Keywords: Telecare; Telehealth; Telepsychiatry.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Telemedicine / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Videoconferencing*