Chronicity of posttraumatic stress disorder and comorbid pain as predictors of treatment response for trauma-affected refugees

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Predictors of treatment outcomes have received limited attention in the field of trauma-affected refugees. Symptom chronicity is potentially a particularly relevant predictor, as it would instruct earlier interventions for a population less familiar with psychiatric treatment options, and its identification may also reduce or delay the onset of comorbidities, such as chronic pain. Accordingly, this study examined the impacts of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) chronicity and baseline comorbid pain on treatment response in trauma-affected refugees. Multiple regression was used to analyze data from a randomized controlled trial of 318 trauma-affected refugees with PTSD that was conducted at a specialized psychiatric clinic in Denmark. Treatment response was measured by changes in symptoms of PTSD (Harvard Trauma Questionnaire) and depression (Hopkins Symptom Checklist-25). Duration of functional impairment was found to be a significant predictor of PTSD outcomes, p = .003, ΔR2 = .02, f2 = .03; it was not predictive of outcomes for depression. Baseline pain severity was a significant predictor of outcomes for both PTSD, p = .009, ΔR2 = .02, f2 = .02, and depression, p = .041, ΔR2 = .01, f2 = .01. These findings suggest that trauma-affected refugees with long-lasting functional impairment and a high pain score are likely to show less improvement from treatments for PTSD and depression. This points to a need for early intervention to prevent chronic functional impairment and suggests comorbid pain is an important therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1393-1404
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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© 2022 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.

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