Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common anxiety disorder with lifetime prevalence in the U.S. of 6.8%. Prolonged Exposure (PE), an exposure-based treatment developed by Edna Foa, Ph.D. and colleagues, is a highly efficacious treatment for PTSD. PE is considered the gold-standard in psychosocial interventions for PTSD, but is rarely used in routine clinical practice. This Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant represents a cooperative partnership between Dr. Foa and BTECH Research. Our primary goal is to facilitate the widespread dissemination of PE by creating a PE Computer-Assisted Therapy Program (PE-CAT) to assist clinicians in implementing PE in real time. The PE-CAT program will be designed for clinicians and patients to use together during therapy sessions and will provide step-by-step guidance through each PE session. This innovative training approach provides a rapid and efficient method of disseminating PE to a large number of clinicians, while also maximizing the likelihood that trained clinicians both use and adhere to PE. We will use an iterative development process involving feedback from end-users throughout all stages of prototype development. Given the novelty of computer-assisted therapy as a method of psychological treatment delivery, in Phase 1 we plan to conduct an extensive formative evaluation to confirm and ensure proof of concept. Specifically, we propose to test the product's usability, acceptability, and feasibility by gathering in-depth qualitative and quantitative data from clinicians and patients. In the event of a successful Phase I formative evaluation, we will complete development of all elements of the PE-CAT program in Phase II. At that time, we intend to conduct an open trial to extensively evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of the PE-CAT program in a large Health Maintenance Organization where client and therapist outcomes can be collected.
Despite the prevalence and often disabling impact of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the majority of patients with PTSD receive no or inadequate treatment due largely to a lack of training opportunities for treatment providers. Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy for PTSD is considered the gold standard in psychosocial interventions for PTSD, but is rarely used in routine practice settings. The primary goal of this project is to facilitate the widespread dissemination of PE by developing a PE Computer- Assisted Therapy Program (PE-CAT) to assist clinicians in implementing and adhering to PE in the context of typical clinical practice.