Indexed on: 15 Jul '18Published on: 15 Jul '18Published in: Military medicine
Group Skills Training in Affective and Interpersonal Regulation (STAIR) is an evidence-based, manualized treatment for individuals with post-traumatic stress symptoms, that focuses on improving functioning through mood management (e.g., emotion regulation) and relationship skills development. To date, no study has evaluated the potential benefit of group STAIR among Veterans. Feasibility of delivering STAIR in a mixed-gender group format and the potential impact of gender on outcome were examined. Participants (n = 39) were Veterans enrolled in a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) Clinic at a large VA Medical Center. Veterans participated in one of four mixed-gender STAIR groups and completed self-report questionnaires of PTSD symptoms and general psychological distress at pre-treatment and post-treatment. Institutional review board approval was obtained for this study. There was significant pre-treatment to post-treatment improvements in PTSD symptoms as measured by the Post-traumatic Stress Checklist (PCL) (Cohen's d = 0.91), as well as in general psychological distress as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) (Cohen's d = 0.90). Change in PTSD symptoms from pre-treatment to post-treatment did not differ across gender. However, the interaction between gender and time on change in (BSI) was significant, where change in general psychological distress significantly decreased from pre-treatment to post-treatment for male Veterans but not for female Veterans. The results from this study demonstrate the feasibility and initial effectiveness of STAIR delivered in a mixed-gender group format for Veterans with PTSD. It should be noted, however, that male Veterans benefited more from this approach than female Veterans. The findings suggest the value of investigating Veterans' attitudes and beliefs about the benefits and drawbacks of mixed-gender group therapy for trauma-related difficulties.