Objective: This study analyzed the outcome of a 4-month intensive inpatient program for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among Vietnam veterans.
Method: The subjects were 51 male veterans with PTSD who completed the inpatient treatment program. Comprehensive measures of PTSD and psychiatric symptoms, as well as social functioning, were assessed at admission, discharge, and 6, 12, and 18 months after discharge.
Results: The overall study group showed an increase in symptoms from admission to follow-up and a decrease in violent actions and thoughts and legal problems. Family and interpersonal relationships and overall morale were improved at discharge but then returned to pretreatment levels at 18 months. Patient evaluations also indicated that the program affected morale and interpersonal relationships but not symptoms.
Conclusions: The chronic nature of combat-related PTSD among Vietnam veterans is evident. The study raises the possibility that long-term intensive inpatient treatment is not effective, and other forms of treatment should be considered after rigorous study of such variables as length of stay, trauma versus rehabilitation focus, and patient characteristics.