Statistical and reliable change with eye movement desensitization and reprocessing

Treating trauma within a veteran population

Grant J. Devilly*, Susan H. Spence, Ronald M. Rapee

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    93 Citations (Scopus)


    Fifty-one war veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder symptomatology were randomly allocated to one of three conditions: two sessions of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), an equivalent procedure without EMDR, or a standard psychiatric support control condition. There was an overall significant main effect of time from pre- to posttreatment, with a reduction in symptomatology for all groups. However, no statistically significant differences were found between the groups. Participants in the two treatment conditions were more likely to display reliable improvement in trauma symptomatology than subjects in the control group. By 6-month follow- up, reductions in symptomatology had dissipated and there were no statistical or reliable differences between the two treatment groups. Overall, the results indicated that, with this war veteran population, improvement rates were less than has been reported in the past. Also, where improvements were found, eye movements were not likely to be the mechanism of change. Rather, the results imply that other nonspecific or therapeutic processes may account for any beneficial effects of EMDR.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)435-455
    Number of pages21
    JournalBehavior Therapy
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 1998

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