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Cognitive Processing Therapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Delivered to Rural Veterans via Telemental Health: A Randomized Noninferiority Clinical Trial

J Clin Psychiatry 2014;75(5):470–476
10.4088/JCP.13m08842

Objective: To compare clinical and process outcomes of cognitive processing therapy-cognitive only version (CPT-C) delivered via videoteleconferencing (VTC) to in-person in a rural, ethnically diverse sample of veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Method: A randomized clinical trial with a noninferiority design was used to determine if providing CPT-C via VTC is effective and “as good as” in-person delivery. The study took place between March 2009 and June 2013. PTSD was diagnosed per DSM-IV. Participants received 12 sessions of CPT-C via VTC (n = 61) or in-person (n = 64). Assessments were administered at baseline, midtreatment, immediately posttreatment, and 3 and 6 months posttreatment. The primary clinical outcome was posttreatment PTSD severity, as measured by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale.

Results: Clinical and process outcomes found VTC to be noninferior to in-person treatment. Significant reductions in PTSD symptoms were identified at posttreatment (Cohen d = 0.78, P < .05) and maintained at 3- and 6-month follow-up (d = 0.73, P < .05 and d = 0.76, P < .05, respectively). High levels of therapeutic alliance, treatment compliance, and satisfaction and moderate levels of treatment expectancies were reported, with no differences between groups (for all comparisons, F < 1.9, P > .17).

Conclusions: Providing CPT-C to rural residents with PTSD via VTC produced outcomes that were “as good as” in-person treatment. All participants demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms posttreatment and at follow-up. Results indicate that VTC can offer increased access to specialty mental health care for residents of rural or remote areas.

Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00879255