Effectiveness of Prolonged Exposure Therapy vs. Cognitive Processing Therapy in Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Systematic Review Systematic Review [paper]




Crook, Raven M.

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Introduction: Traumatic events, especially in combat veterans, can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), impacting mental health and overall functioning. This systematic review compares the effectiveness of two evidence-based trauma-focused psychotherapies, prolonged exposure therapy (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT), in treating PTSD among recent military campaign veterans. Both PE and CPT are endorsed in the current VA/DoD guideline, with PE involving the gradual exploration of trauma memories and CPT addressing negative thoughts. Methods: Utilizing Neuman's Systems Theory, this systematic review examines eight diverse study designs, encompassing quasi-experimental trials, retrospective studies, and randomized controlled trials. A systematic literature review was conducted using specific search terms across seven databases. The selection process resulted in eight relevant articles. Results: PE emerges slightly more effective in six studies, while two studies suggest a slight advantage for CPT. Factors influencing outcomes include treatment timing, session completion, and patient choice. Both therapies exhibit positive impacts on veterans, emphasizing adaptability and individualized approaches. Discussion: This systematic review addresses the urgency of effective treatments for veterans with PTSD, exploring the advantages and limitations of PE and CPT. The findings give evidence of the importance of individualized approaches and highlight the need for further research to inform personalized interventions.


An EBP Capstone Project submitted to the St. David’s School of Nursing at Texas State University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing.


veterans, post-traumatic stress disorder, prolonged exposure therapy, cognitive processing therapy, systematic review


Crook, R. M. (2023). Effectiveness of prolonged exposure therapy vs. cognitive processing therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: A systematic review systematic review [paper]


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