Although there has been research connecting PTSD and social support, there has been little research on effects of treatment, especially in military samples. The current study examined the relationship between these variables over the course of PTSD treatment and assessed differences based on treatment modality (i.e. group versus individual).
Participants were 322 active duty service members in a randomized controlled trial comparing the effectiveness of group and individual Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) treatment modalities and were assessed for PTSD symptoms and social support both prior to and upon completion treatment. Cross-lagged regression models were used to examine stability and lagged effects between PTSD severity and dimensions of social support from pre- to post-treatment.
Lower levels of pre-treatment PTSD severity were associated with higher levels of post-treatment social support across all three subscales (all b ’s at least -.15, p < .02). The only significant difference based on treatment modality was a stronger relationship between pre- and post-treatment PTSD severity for those who received group CPT compared to participants who received individual CPT, consistent with previous findings.
Recommendations for improving social support during PTSD treatment through modalities, such as family-centered models or social skills training, are discussed.