The Institute of Medicine has stressed the need for evaluations of evidence-based treatments (EBTs) for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among active duty service members (AD) using a variety of evaluation approaches (Institute of Medicine, 2012). The current study examined the clinical files of 134 service members who completed treatment for PTSD using either prolonged exposure (PE) or cognitive processing therapy at an outpatient clinic. At the completion of each session, therapists made a clinical rating as to whether or not the session was protocol adherent. The total number of treatment sessions and the proportion of sessions rated as being protocol adherent were calculated. Multi-level models estimated the change in patient PTSD and other psychological symptoms over time as a function of clinician-rated protocol adherence and total number of sessions. Approximately 65% of clinic encounters were rated by therapists as being protocol adherent. Significant reductions in PTSD and psychological symptoms were associated with protocol adherence, and this was particularly true for patients who began treatment above clinical thresholds for both PTSD and other psychological symptoms. However, as the number of sessions increased, the impact of protocol adherence was attenuated. Patient characteristics, including gender, ethnicity, and co-morbidity for other psychiatric disorders were not related to symptom change trajectories over time. These findings suggest that protocol adherence and efficiency in delivery of EBTs for the treatment of PTSD with AD is critical.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)465-475
Number of pages11
JournalMilitary Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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