Online tools helping people cope with PTSD

Researchers at Boston University and a Boston division of the National Center for PTSD have developed an online model for treating people with symptoms of PTSD and heavy alcohol use. Terence M. Keane, a lead researcher, said he hopes the results of a recent study will lead to similar online tools for people coping with PTSD and other behavioral health problems:

—600 people were recruited using targeted Facebook advertisements.

—Most participants were white, in the Army, had been deployed two or more times, and had been exposed to a range of combat events.

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- All were considered heavy drinkers, though researchers excluded those determined to be alcohol dependent because they worried about people facing withdrawal alone.

—Participants provided an e-mail address, but no name.

- Two-thirds were randomly selected to immediately begin an eight-part program to evaluate their drinking and develop ways to cope with PTSD symptoms that did not involve alcohol. The others started the same program two months later.

- 187 people in the first group completed all evaluations. They reported a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms, binge drinking, and average drinks per week than the group waiting for access to the program.

—Three months after completing the program, the first group reported a continued reduction in alcohol intake.

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