Psychological interventions intended to prevent the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the early stages after a traumatic experience have not been shown to be effective, Cochrane Researchers have concluded.
This systematic review focused on multiple-session treatments for everyone involved, irrespective of the presence of symptoms. Two previous reviews found single session interventions to be ineffective.
"It is important to note that these interventions were for everyone involved in a traumatic event rather than just those who had symptoms, which may account for the results.
"We found no benefit associated with any of the multiple session interventions studied, and there was some evidence that multiple session interventions may result in worse outcome than no intervention for some individuals," says lead researcher Neil Roberts of the Traumatic Stress Service at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, UK.
"Our recommendation is, therefore, that these interventions should not be used as a blanket approach for everyone involved in traumatic events."
The reviewers are keen to emphasise that this review should not be read as suggesting that psychological intervention has no role in treating PTSD. "The current study was looking at the ability of psychological interventions to prevent onset of symptoms, and deliberately excluded targeted interventions where therapy was only offered to people who were already displaying symptoms of PTSD," says Roberts.
"We urgently need more research on the most effective ways of giving psychological help to people who suffer traumatic events," says Roberts. "Coupled with the results of earlier reviews, our research indicates that there is currently no effective option for early stage prevention of post traumatic stress disorder."