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J Trauma Stress. 2016 Aug;29(4):325-31. doi: 10.1002/jts.22116. Epub 2016 Jul 26.

The Moderating Effect of State Anger on Treatment Outcome in Female Adolescents With PTSD.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Trauma experienced in childhood and adolescence negatively affects the development of adaptive regulation of emotions and is associated with greater symptoms of anger. Prior research has suggested that high levels of anger may impede the outcome of treatment in adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The current study investigated whether high levels of anger resulted in poorer treatment outcomes in adolescent girls with PTSD. Participants included 61 female adolescent survivors of sexual abuse or assault who were randomized to either prolonged exposure for adolescents (PE-A) or client-centered therapy (CCT) for traumatized children for 8-14 weekly sessions. Participants were followed for 12 months posttreatment. High levels of state anger at baseline were associated with less improvement in PTSD symptoms in the CCT group than the PE-A group (d = 0.62). The moderating effects of state anger on improvement in PTSD symptoms was significant with emotion regulation difficulties, which may underlie anger symptoms (d = 0.58) in the model. The results of this study suggessted that high state anger was less of an impediment to treatment of PTSD for those receiving PE-A than those receiving less differentiated approaches such as CCT.


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