Does EMDR reduce post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology in combat veterans?



Prior meta-analyses have suggested that eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) may be effective in alleviating the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). EMDR is now being recommended as a treatment for military combat veterans who suffer from PTSD. We provide a review of published outcome studies that appeared in print from 1987 – April, 2008 which examined the specific effects of EMDR on PTSD among military combat veterans. Studies were identified through electronic bibliographic databases, web sites, and manual searches of article reference lists. A total of six randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and three quasi-experimental studies met our inclusionary criteria and are reviewed. The evidence supporting the use of EMDR to treat combat veterans suffering from PTSD is sparse and equivocal, and does not rise to the threshold of labeling the therapy as an empirically supported treatment. It is premature to incorporate EMDR into routine care for veterans to alleviate combat-related PTSD. EMDR needs a considerably stronger evidentiary foundation which includes large-scale RCTs involving credible placebo controlled treatment conditions. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.