Penn Medicine Receives $7.7 Million Grant From Department of Defense to Study PTSD

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Media Contact:Jessica Mikulski | | 215-349-8369September 25, 2012

PHILADELPHIA – A team of researchers led by Edna Foa PhD, professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety (CTSA) at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania , has received a $7.7 million grant from the Department of Defense (DoD) to study the most effective way to implement Prolonged Exposure therapy, an effective and efficient treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among mental health practitioners who treat soldiers suffering from this disorder.

Prolonged Exposure (PE), developed by Dr. Foa, is the most empirically supported therapy for PTSD; in 8-15 sessions the vast majority of patients treated with PE show substantial reduction in severity of PTSD and related psychiatric problems. “Thousands of mental health professionals in the U.S. and abroad have been taught how to deliver PE to their PTSD patients,” said Dr. Foa. “But questions remain about whether providing supervision to clinicians after they have completed a training workshop in PE increases their ability to effectively use the newly learned therapy in their clinical practice.” 

With an estimated 14 percent of U.S. military personnel returning from war with PTSD, it is critical to have an extensive force of well-trained mental health professionals available to support these soldiers. “Unfortunately, there is a limited availability of clinicians who have been effectively trained at using evidence based therapies that we know are most likely to help these patients,” said Carmen McLean, PhD , assistant professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry and co-investigator of the new study. “We need to determine the most effective and efficient ways to train these mental health professionals in PE so they can make the biggest impact for the men and women coming back from combat.”

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