Treatment for Symptoms of Chronic Military Service-Related PTSD
Approximately 27% of military personnel sought medical assistance for symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder through a Veterans Affairs (VA) health facility between 2002 and 2010, according to a 2011 report by the Congressional Research Service (PDF). Common PTSD treatments include both medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy through hospital stays and outpatient service.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “Adjunctive Risperidone Treatment for Antidepressant-Resistant Symptoms of Chronic Military Service-Related PTSD” (PDF), treated a random selection of 247 returned military service officers diagnosed with PTSD with the drug risperidone and then assessed its impact on participants’ PTSD-related symptoms as measured by the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS).
The study’s findings include:
- While subjects’ CAPS scores decreased across the sample set, there was no significant difference between the group administered the antipsychotic drug compared to those administered a placebo.
- At least 5% of study subjects experienced adverse side effects, including weight gain, fatigue, somnolence, and hyper-salivation. The adverse effects appear to be confined to instances in which the subject was receiving a 3mg or higher dose of risperidone.
The researchers conclude that “risperidone, the second most widely prescribed SGA within VA for PTSD… did not reduce overall PTSD severity (CAPS total score), produce global improvement … or increase quality of life in patients with chronic SRI- resistant military-related PTSD symptoms. Overall, the data do not provide strong support for the current wide-spread prescription of risperidone to patients with chronic SRI-resistant military-related PTSD symptoms, and these findings should stimulate careful re- view of the benefits of these medications in patients with chronic PTSD.”
Tags: mental health, PTSD, veterans, war
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the study-related New York Times article titled "Drugs Found Ineffective for Veterans' Stress."
- Reporter's use of the study: Evaluate what the reporter chose to include and exclude from the study. Would the audience have acquired a clear understanding of the study's findings and limits from this article?
- Reporter's use of other material: Assess the material in the article that is not derived from the study. (for example: Does the reporter place the study in the context of other research and to what effect? Does the reporter include reactions to the study from other researchers or interested parties [e.g., political groups business leaders, or community members] and are their credentials or possible biases made clear?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.