Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious and disabling mental disorder, affecting military personnel and veterans at higher rates than the general community. The long-term impacts of PTSD can be devastating on an individual’s overall well-being, their family life as well as their ability to maintain social relationships and successful employment.
One of the most evidence-based treatments for PTSD is prolonged exposure therapy which systematically and safely assists the person with PTSD to address their memories of the event/s that underlie their condition. This treatment has traditionally been delivered on a weekly basis over a 10 – 12 week period. However, many military personnel and veterans do not access this treatment due to barriers in attending weekly treatment over longer periods of time and therefore do not receive its benefits.
To provide military personnel and veterans with the best chance of recovery and maximise uptake of treatment research was required to study whether this high quality and evidence-based treatment could be provided in a more intensive format with equal effectiveness. This would mean it could be available to a much larger cohort of military personnel and veterans overcoming barriers to treatment, and clinicians providing care could be trained to deliver it effectively.
In light of this, with funding from a National Health and Medical Research Council grant and in partnership with the Australian Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Phoenix Australia from the University of Melbourne led the RESTORE trial.
The RESTORE trial is Australia’s largest ever treatment trial of PTSD in military personnel and veterans. The trial tested prolonged exposure therapy weekly (over 10 weeks) compared with intensive daily (over two weeks). The trial showed the intensive treatment was equally effective in significantly reducing PTSD in almost all participants, with over 50% in both treatment options no longer meeting criteria for the condition.