Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety

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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

Attaining and Maintaining Wellness in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

This study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is a collaboration between Dr. Edna Foa from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Blair Simpson from Columbia University-New York State Psychiatric Institute.The goal of the study is to understand whether patients with OCD on Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SRIs) who receive EX/RP can discontinue their medication if they first do well with EX/RP. Eligible participants remain on a stable dose of their OCD medication in the first part of the study, and will receive cognitive behavioral therapy consisting of Exposure and Ritual Prevention (EX/RP) twice a week for up to 12 weeks as additional treatment.  Participants who become well after the EX/RP will either continue their medication or begin to taper off their medication and have it gradually replaced with a placebo (sugar pill).  All patients will be carefully monitored throughout the second part of the study, which lasts 24 weeks.

No one who has not become well after 12 weeks of EX/RP will discontinue their medication.  Individuals who do not improve will be referred elsewhere to receive appropriate clinical treatment.


This study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, is a collaboration between Dr. Edna Foa from the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Blair Simpson from Columbia University-New York State Psychiatric Institute.  Men and women ages 18-75 with OCD who are currently taking an SRI medication (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro or Anafranil) and who are not taking other psychotropic medications at the same time may be eligible to participate in this study.  There is no cost for the cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

For more information visit our website www.ocdtreatmentstudy.com, or contact Natalie Gay at 215-746-3327. 

 

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