The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) on posttraumatic stress disorder in Bosnian war victims

Description

Background:
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a new technique that seems to offer considerable promise for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) However, because o f the lack o f well-controlled studies of its effectiveness, there has been considerable controversy about its use. The purpose of the present study was to carry out an experiment that would meet the objections raised by critics to earlier studies. Specifically, the present study included: an untreated control group, participants with a confirmed diagnosis o f PTSD, and use of formal test instruments (which meant that the same individual did not do both the treatment and the assessment).

Method:
The participants were Bosnians who were being treated for PTSD at a clinic in their ow n country. Participants were randomly assigned to either the treated group, which received three sessions of EMDR within a week, or an untreated group that received one session of EMDR after the study had been completed. All participants were tested before and after treatment on formal measures of PTSD and depression. Treatment was carried out with the aid of an interpreter. The tests were translated into Bosnian and were shown, in a pilot study, to be comprehensible to native speakers of that language. Due to dropout, the final sample consisted of 5 participants in the control group and 6 participants in the experimental group. For each dependent variable, the pretreatment score was subtracted from the posttreatm ent score, and the direction of the difference was preserved. Statistical analysis consisted of f-tests for independent groups carried out on the difference scores.

Findings:
In spite of the small sample size, it was found that the treated group improved significantly more than the control group on two measures, thus confirming two of the four hypotheses. As predicted, participants treated with EM DR experienced an alleviation of symptoms o f PTSD (assessed by the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and depression (assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory). The two groups did not differ significantly on the two subscales (avoidance and intrusion) of the Impact of Event Scale. Thus, an additional two hypotheses were not confirmed. After treatment, but not before, significantly fewer treated than untreated participants met the criterion (based on the Mississippi Scale for Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) for a diagnosis of PTSD.

Conclusions and Recommendations:
The results provided some support for the claim advanced by Shapiro, the originator of EMDR, that the technique is one that should be used with individuals diagnosed with PTSD. However, some limitations in the data were noted. The final sample size was small. There was no treated control group and, because the therapist could not stay in the country for a lengthy period of time, the follow up period was short (7 to 10 days after treatment ended). About half of the original participants did not remain in the study. Although the dropout rate was the same in both groups, it is possible that the participants who dropped out of the experimental group were the ones who felt that they were not being helped. The findings were encouraging, especially in view o f the fact that the treatment was carried out by an American therapist who had to communicate with participants through an interpreter. Further studies, with a larger sample and a longer follow-up period, should be carried out.

Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Language

English

Author(s)

Lynn Cawley

Original Work Citation

Cawley, L. (2016, September). The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) on posttraumatic stress disorder in Bosnian war victims. (Dissertation, California Graduate Institute)

Collection

Citation

“The effectiveness of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) on posttraumatic stress disorder in Bosnian war victims,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed October 19, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/24676.

Output Formats