Reintegration interventions for CPTSD: a systematic review

European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Lucy R. Purnell, Alicia C. J. Graham, Michael A. P. Bloomfield & Jo Billings

https://doi.org/10.1080/20008198.2021.1934789

Abstract

Background: Clinical guidelines recommend a phase-based approach to treatment for complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), yet little is known about what interventions are being offered and which may be effective in the final ‘reintegration’ phase.

Objective: To systematically review literature on reintegration interventions for CPTSD, describing the nature and effectiveness of interventions.

Method: We searched four electronic databases (Medline, PsycINFO, Embase, and PTSDpubs) for interventions aiming to facilitate reintegration for participants with probable CPTSD. We had two aims: firstly, to describe the interventions and secondly, to describe their effectiveness as measured through measures of reintegration, PTSD and/or disturbances in self-organization (DSO), or qualitative data describing changes experienced. Results are presented using narrative synthesis.

Results: Fifteen studies met our inclusion criteria. Interventions included yoga, exercise, use of service dogs, residential treatment, education, self-defence and patient research involvement. Overall study quality was low, as assessed by critical appraisal tools. Of the six studies including a control group, two reported a statistically significant improvement in the measure of reintegration between the intervention and control group, four studies reported a statistically significant difference in the measure of PTSD symptoms, but none reported any significant differences between intervention and control groups in DSO. Of all eight quantitative studies, three reported a statistically significant difference in the reintegration measure pre- to post-intervention for the intervention group, five a statistically significant improvement in the measure of PTSD symptoms, and three a significant difference in the DSO measure. From eight studies reporting qualitative date we synthesized themes into eight categories, within which facilitation of connection with others was the most commonly reported benefit.

Conclusions: The interventions outlined may facilitate reintegration, however, research in this area is still in its infancy and quality research is lacking. Further research is needed to establish whether reintegration interventions enhance treatment for CPTSD.

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