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Does physiologic response to loud tones change following cognitive–behavioral treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder?

Authors

  • Michael G. Griffin,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology and Center for Trauma Recovery, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
    • University of Missouri-St. Louis, Center for Trauma Recovery, Kathy J. Weinman Building, One University Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63121.
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  • Patricia A. Resick,

    1. National Center for PTSD, VA Boston Healthcare System and Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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  • Tara E. Galovski

    1. Department of Psychology and Center for Trauma Recovery, University of Missouri-St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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  • This work was supported by NIMH grant MH55542 (Dr. Resick) and NIMH grant MH55688 (Dr. Griffin).

Abstract

This study examined responses to loud tones before and after cognitive–behavioral treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Seventy-four women in a PTSD treatment outcome study for rape-related (n = 54) or physical assault-related PTSD (n = 20) were assessed in an auditory loud tone paradigm. Assessments were conducted before and after a 6-week period of cognitive–behavioral therapy. Physiologic responses to loud tones included heart rate (HR), skin conductance (SC), and eye-blink electromyogram (EMG). Groups were formed based upon treatment outcome and included a treatment responder group (no PTSD at posttreatment) and a nonresponder group (PTSD-positive at posttreatment). Treatment was successful for 53 of 74 women (72%) and unsuccessful for 21 women (28%). Responders and nonresponders were not significantly different from each other at pretreatment on the main outcome variables. Treatment responders showed a significant reduction in loud tone-related EMG, HR, and SC responses from pre- to posttreatment (partial η2 = .24, .31, and .36, respectively; all p < .001) and the EMG and HR responses were significantly smaller than nonresponders at posttreatment (partial η2 = .11, p = .004 and .19, p < .001, respectively). Successful cognitive–behavioral treatment of PTSD is associated with a quantifiable reduction in physiological responding to loud tones.

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