Neurocognitive functioning over the course of trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD: Changes in verbal memory and executive functioning

Description

Objectives.
Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have neurocognitive deficits in verbal memory and executive functioning. In this study, we examined whether memory and executive functioning changed over the course of treatment and which clinical variables were associated with change.

Design.
Neuropsychological assessments were administered at baseline and endpoint of a randomized controlled trial as secondary outcome. Methods. Trauma survivors (n = 88) diagnosed with PTSD received trauma-focused psychotherapy within a 17-week randomized controlled trial. Neuropsychological tests were the California Verbal Learning Test, Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test, Stroop Color Word Test, and Trail Making Test.

Results.
Significant, small- to medium-sized improvements in verbal memory, information processing speed, and executive functioning were found after traumafocused psychotherapy (Cohen’s d 0.16–0.68). Greater PTSD symptom decrease was significantly related to better post-treatment neurocognitive performance (all p < .005). Patients with comorbid depression improved more than patients with PTSD alone on interference tasks (p < .01). No differences emerged between treatment conditions and between patients on serotonergic antidepressants and those who were not.

Conclusions.
This study suggests that neurocognitive deficits in PTSD can improve over the course of trauma-focused psychotherapy and are therefore at least partly reversible. Improvements over treatment are in line with previous neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies and effect sizes exceed those of practice effects. Future research should determine whether these changes translate into improved functioning in the daily lives of the patients.

Format

Journal

Language

English

Author(s)

Mirjam J. Nijdam
Irene J. M. Martens
Johannes B. Reitsma
Berthold P. R. Gersons
Miranda Olff

Original Work Citation

Nijdam, M. J., Martens, I. J. M., Reitsma, J. B., Gersons, B. P. R., & Olff, M. (2018). Neurocognitive functioning over the course of trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD: Changes in verbal memory and executive functioning. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. doi:10.1111/bjc.12183

Collection

Citation

“Neurocognitive functioning over the course of trauma-focused psychotherapy for PTSD: Changes in verbal memory and executive functioning,” Francine Shapiro Library, accessed November 24, 2020, https://emdria.omeka.net/items/show/25332.

Output Formats