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Sex differences in recovery from PTSD in male and female interpersonal assault survivors

Tara E. Galovski, Leah M. Blain, Courtney Chappuis & Thomas Fletcher.

Behaviour Research and Therapy

Volume 51, Issue 6, June 2013, Pages 247–255



Men and women differ in exposure to trauma and the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); however, research regarding sex differences in recovery from PTSD has been sparse. This study evaluated the treatment response trajectory for 69 male and female interpersonal assault survivors, using a modified Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) protocol that allowed survivors to receive up to18 sessions of CPT, with treatment end determined by therapy progress. Few sex differences were observed in trauma history, baseline PTSD and depressive severity, Axis I comorbidity, anger, guilt and dissociation. Women did report more sexual assault in adulthood and elevated baseline guilt cognitions, whereas men reported more baseline anger directed inward. Attrition and total number of sessions did not differ by sex. Over the course of treatment and follow-up, men and women demonstrated similar rates of change in PTSD and depressive symptoms. However, medium effect sizes on both of these primary outcomes at the 3-month follow-up assessment favored women. Several differences in the slope of change emerged on secondary outcomes such that women evidenced more rapid gains on global guilt, guilt cognitions, anger/irritability, and dissociation. Results suggest that male survivors may warrant additional attention to address these important clinical correlates.





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