Treatment of acute stress disorder for victims of violent crime

J Affect Disord. 2018 Dec 1:241:15-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2018.07.048. Epub 2018 Jul 20.


Background: Victims of violent crime are at elevated risk of developing acute stress disorder (ASD) as well as subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both of which are linked to severe psychological distress. The aim of this 12-month prospective study was to evaluate the efficacy of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) vs. cognitive-behavioral therapy with a significant other (CBT-SO), relative to usual care (UC), for the improvement of post-traumatic, depression and anxiety symptoms and the prevention of PTSD among victims of violent crime with ASD.

Methods: A total of 166 victims of violent crime with ASD were assigned to CBT (n = 54), CBT-SO (n = 52) or UC (n = 60). Self-report assessments and diagnostic interviews were completed at pre-treatment and post-treatment as well as at 6-month and 12-month follow-ups.

Results: CBT and CBT-SO participants had fewer depression symptoms than those in the UC group up to 12 months post-event. Significantly fewer participants in the CBT condition met criteria for PTSD than in the UC group up to 12 months post-event. The CBT group did not differ from the CBT-SO group on any variable at any assessment time.

Limitations: Findings must be interpreted in light of the quasi-experimental nature of the study and limitations concerning the management of missing data.

Conclusions: Further research is warranted in order to assess whether more extensive involvement of a significant other in therapy may lead to better outcomes for victims of violent crime with ASD.

Keywords: Acute stress disorder; Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Social support; Victims of violent crime.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Crime
  • Crime Victims*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy, Group
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic, Acute / therapy*

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