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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Post-traumatic stress disorder-Treatment, Acceptance and commitment therapy, Soldiers-Mental health-United States, Psychotherapy-Outcome assessment, Combat-Psychological aspects, PTSD, ACT, Military, Trauma, Treatment outcome, Early response, Combat


Military personnel who have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are facing unique challenges unseen in previous generations of war, including unprecedented trauma exposure and PTSD prevalence rates. Despite the existence of evidence-based treatments for PTSD, most of them are trauma-focused (i.e., requiring patients to actively think about their past trauma in therapy), and have raised concerns about high treatment dropout rates, combat veterans not benefiting as much as other trauma survivors, therapist discomfort with administering stressful therapy, patient compliance with treatment protocols, and failure to adequately address the comorbid conditions that often accompany combat-related PTSD (e.g., depression, anxiety, and somatization). Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) has been proposed as an alternative non-trauma-focused treatment for PTSD with transdiagnostic promise (i.e., ability to address PTSD comorbidities). The present study assessed predictors of early response to ACT in comparison to a control treatment (Present Centered Therapy; PCT) from a randomized trial involving Iraq and Afghanistan military personnel. Patients who showed the best early response to ACT were those who had better quality social relationships, less pain, and lower PTSD symptomatology prior to treatment. Patients who showed the best early response to PCT, on the other hand, were predicted by good general psychological quality of life and less compensation seeking behavior prior to therapy. The findings suggest that there are distinct patient types who respond most favorably to ACT and that highly symptomatic PTSD patients with poor social networks may not be good candidates for ACT.




83 pages. Honors Project-Smith College, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 49-72)