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NIDA

Strategies needed to reduce treatment dropout rate for veterans with PTSD and Substance Use Disorders

Science Highlight

June 09, 2017

Military flagsPhoto by ©istock/oscarcwilliams

Although there are effective treatments for veterans with co-occurring Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Substance Use Disorders (SUD), many drop out of treatment.

Research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Department of Veterans Affairs looked for predictors of dropout from one such empirically proven treatment, integrated prolonged exposure therapy. They found that 43 percent of patients dropped out over the course of the 12-week treatment. The dropout rate was fairly constant, with a spike between sessions 9 and 10. Patients with more severe PTSD symptoms at the start of therapy were modestly more likely to drop out.

These findings highlight the dearth of information about dropout from integrated treatments for PTSD and SUD. The researchers suggest that providers maintain an ongoing dialogue with patients about the risk of dropping out, and assess constantly for potential dropout.

This study was part of a federal research partnership on combat related substance use announced in 2010: https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2010/08/studies-combat-related-substance-use-abuse-to-be-funded-by-nih-va

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