Cognitive Behavioral Treatment for Acute Posttrauma Distress: A Randomized, Controlled Proof-of-Concept Study Among Hospitalized Adults With Burns

James A. Fauerbach, Amanda K. Gehrke, Shawn T. Mason, Neda F. Gould, Stephen M. Milner, Julie Caffrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective: (1) To evaluate the feasibility of conducting a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of the Safety, Meaning, Activation and Resilience Training (SMART) intervention vs nondirective supportive psychotherapy (NDSP) in an acutely hospitalized adult survivor of burn injury sample; and (2) to assess the preliminary effect of SMART on acute stress disorder (ASD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and major depressive disorder (MDD) symptom reduction as secondary prevention. Design: Proof-of-concept, parallel group RCT design. Setting: Regional burn center. Participants: Acutely injured, hospitalized adult survivors of burn injury (N=50) were randomly assigned to SMART (n=28) or nondirective supportive psychotherapy (n=22). Due to dropout and missing data, final sample size was 40, SMART (n=21) and nondirective supportive psychotherapy (n=19). Interventions: SMART is a manualized, 4-session cognitive behavioral therapy-based psychological intervention targeting ASD, PTSD, and MDD symptoms. NDSP is a manualized, 4-session protocol. Main Outcome Measures: Davidson Trauma Scale ([DTS]; diagnostic proxy for ASD and PTSD; clinical cutoff=40, with higher score=higher severity) and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 ([PHQ-9]; diagnostic proxy for MDD; clinical cutoff=10, with higher score=higher severity) at pretreatment, immediate posttreatment, and 1 month posttreatment. Results: At baseline, median DTS scores and PHQ-9 scores were above clinical cutoffs and did not differ across groups. At 1 week and 1 month posttreatment, median DTS and PHQ-9 scores were beneath clinical cutoffs in the SMART group; scores remained above clinical cutoffs in the NDSP group at these time points. Conclusions: It is feasible to conduct an RCT of SMART in hospitalized adult survivors of burn injury. SMART has the potential to yield clinically significant outcomes. Additional studies are needed to replicate and extend these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S16-S25
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Acute stress disorder
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Depression
  • Depressive disorder
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stress disorders, post-traumatic
  • Stress disorders, traumatic, acute

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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