Eye movement desensitization 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

3 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective: One recommended psychological intervention for trauma treatment in Western countries, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR). However, there is a paucity of data regarding treatment interventions in low- and middle-income countries. This study examined the efficacy of EMDR for treating posttraumatic stress (PTS), anxiety, and depression among a cohort of individuals with low socioeconomic status in a conflict-affected middle-income country as well as a smaller refugee cohort.

Methods: Two hundred and sixty-eight adults residing in Lebanon (male = 65, female = 203, SDgender = 0.43; µage = 30.5, SDage = 10.49; 85% Lebanese, 15% refugees [9.3% from Syria, and 5.7% from Iraq, Palestine, the Philippines, and Other]) received EMDR therapy. Measures of PTS, anxiety, and depression were taken at three time points: before treatment (T0), posttreatment (T1), and 6-month follow-up (T2).

Results: Reduction in PTS symptoms from T0 to T1, F(1, 208) = 412.3, p< .01, and T1 to T2, F(1, 46) = 136.1, p < .01. Reduction in anxiety symptoms from T0 to T1, F(1, 208) = 387.0, p< .01, and T1 to T2, F(1, 46) = 153.7, p < .01. Similarly, for depression, a reduction of symptoms from T0 to T1, F(1, 207) = 309.5, p< .01, and T0 to T2, F(1, 46) = 96.0, p < .01.

Conclusion: This research supports the use of EMDR for the treatment of PTS, depression, and anxiety symptoms in individuals with low socioeconomic 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
Number of pages7
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Early online date19 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2023

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