Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

Open Research Studies

Studies of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

More Efficient Treatment Protocol for PTSD

Patients 18 or older who have experienced a traumatic event and are struggling with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are invited to participate in a new treatment study. This study is to determine whether 60-minute sessions of prolonged exposure therapy (PE) can reduce PTSD symptoms as effectively as 90-minute sessions of PE. The goal is to replicate a previous study which found that 60-minute sessions and 90-minute sessions of PE were equally effective. Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to either the 60-minute session group or the 90-minute session group. Regardless of which group the participant is assigned to, the fee for 60-minute sessions will be charged.

Participants in this study will receive the gold-standard treatment for PTSD from experts trained under the supervision of Dr. Edna Foa, Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety and co-developer of prolonged exposure therapy. PE consists of 10-15 therapy sessions that happen once or twice a week. The two core components of PE are imaginal exposures (repeated confrontation with the traumatic memories) and in vivo exposures (systematic confrontation with avoided trauma-related situations). Other components of PE include processing of the imaginal exposure experience, education about common reactions to trauma, and anxiety management (controlled breathing).

A key benefit of participation is the close monitoring of participants' treatment by study therapists and study staff. This study will incorporate cutting edge monitoring of physiological responding to assess skin conductance, heart rate, and body temperature using a small, non-invasive reader that is placed comfortably on three fingertips. This is one of the first studies that will be comparing objective measures of distress with subjective measures of distress during PE.

All study procedures will take place at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA), located at 3535 Market Street, Suite 600, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

If you are interested in learning more about the study, including the adjusted fee for treatment, please call the study coordinator Hayley Fitzgerald at 215-746-3327.

Studies of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

We are not recruiting for any OCD research studies at this time. Please check back later!


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