Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing as a Treatment for PTSD in Conflict Affected Areas

Andrea Scott-Bell*, Georgia Allen, Glyn Howatson, Matthew D Kiernan, Anna Wippich, Derek Farrell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Objective: One recommended psychological intervention for trauma treatment in Western countries, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), is Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR). However, there is a paucity of data regarding treatment interventions in low-to-middle income countries. This study examined the efficacy of EMDR for treating post-traumatic stress (PTS), Anxiety and Depression among a cohort of individuals with low-socio economic status in a conflict-affected middle-income country as well as a smaller refugee cohort.                                                                                                    Methods: 268 adults residing in Lebanon (Male=65, Female=203, SD gender =0.43; µ age = 30.5, SD age =10.49; 85% Lebanese, 15% refugees (9.3% from Syria, and 5.7% from Iraq, Palestine, Philippines or other) received EMDR Therapy. Measures of PTS, Anxiety and Depression were taken at three points: Before Treatment (T0); Post-Treatment (T1); 6-Month Follow-Up (T2).      Results: Reduction in PTS symptoms from T0 to T1 (F (1,208) =412.3, p<0.01) and T1 to T2 (F (1,46) = 136.1, p<0.01). Reduction in Anxiety symptoms from T0 to T1 (F (1,208) =387.0, p<0.01), and T1 to T2 (F (1,46) = 153.7, p<0.01). Similarly, for Depression, a reduction of symptoms from T0 to T1 (F (1,207) =309.5, p<0.01) and T0 to T2 (F (1,46) = 96.0, p<0.01).                    Conclusion: EMDR is an effective treatment for reducing PTS, Depression and Anxiety symptoms in individuals with low socio-economic status and refugees, thus contributing to the research base for populations that are under researched. Mental health services, especially in conflict affected settings, would benefit from using EMDR therapy to target these pathologies in these populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 21 Oct 2022


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