Providing a treatment rationale for PTSD: does what we say matter?
Little is understood about the factors that influence a woman's preference for a particular type of treatment after an assault. Furthermore, it remains unclear the extent to which providing detailed information such as the mechanism underlying a treatment or its side effects can affect a client's treatment preference for psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy. The current study of 324 women with varying degrees of trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress symptoms experimentally manipulated the content of treatment rationales for two common PTSD treatments: sertraline (SER) and prolonged exposure (PE). Specifically, both information regarding the hypothesized mechanism of the treatment and treatment side effects were manipulated. In general, personal reactions were more positive and credibility was stronger for psychotherapy than pharmacotherapy. This preference for the psychotherapy persisted regardless of specific information presented in the treatment rationale. For those reporting heightened hyperarousal and those of minority status, there was an increased likelihood of more positive reactions to sertraline. The results highlight assessment of treatment-related beliefs and preferences early on in the therapeutic process. Ultimately, understanding the factors that shape treatment preferences may contribute to the development of personalized treatment strategies that integrate preferences and attitudes about treatment as a way of bolstering adherence and outcome.