A Common Elements Approach to Evaluating Combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Interventions

Open Access
Hoffman, Allison Lynn
Area of Honors:
Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Daniel Francis Perkins, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Lisa Michelle Gatzke-Kopp, Honors Advisor
  • Cameron Bruce Richardson, Faculty Reader
  • posttraumatic stress disorder
  • PTSD
  • military
  • common elements
The purpose of the current study is to apply a novel data analytic approach to identify effective routes for treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The approach focuses on the practice elements (elements) of an intervention rather than the intervention program as a whole. A sample of studies specific to combat-related PTSD interventions was used to: (1) examine the frequency of use of different elements; (2) determine if the amount of elements used is related to significance; and (3) identify if certain patterns of elements are more likely to be associated with significant results. The results of this analytic approach included: psychoeducation was the element used most frequently in treatments with significant outcomes; the effective amount of elements utilized in interventions ranges from three to eight; and psychoeducation and imaginal exposure was the most common pattern of elements utilized in interventions that were found to improve outcomes of interest compared to an alternate approach to intervention. Several implications are noted such as: both the identification of upper and lower limits for the amount of elements to be used in an intervention, as well as the identification of patterns of elements may inform future research using factorial designs to open up the “black box” (i.e., to identify components and/or combinations of components that are causally related to outcomes of interest).