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Provision of online eye movement and desensitisation therapy (EMDR) for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a multi-method service evaluation

Strelchuk, Daniela, Turner, Katrina, Smith, Sophie, Bisson, Jonathan ORCID:, Wiles, Nicola and Zammit, Stan ORCID: 2023. Provision of online eye movement and desensitisation therapy (EMDR) for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a multi-method service evaluation. European Journal of Psychotraumatology 14 (2) , 2281182. 10.1080/20008066.2023.2281182

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Background: The evidence for the effectiveness of online EMDR for PTSD is scarce. Objective: This service evaluation aimed to assess how online EMDR compared to in-person EMDR, in terms of its potential effectiveness and acceptability to therapists and patients. Method: The evaluation was carried out in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Traumatic Stress Service. We compared the outcome of therapy (PTSD scores at end of treatment), number of sessions, drop-out rate, and adverse events using linear/logistic regression in those receiving online EMDR over a 12-month period with those who had received in-person therapy in the year previous to that. Interviews with therapists and clients who had provided or undertaken online EMDR explored their views and experiences of treatment. Interviews were analysed thematically. Results: 33 people received in-person EMDR (15.3 sessions, SD = 1.4), and 45 received online EMDR (12.4 sessions, SD = 0.9). 24 individuals completed therapy in-person, and 32 online. There was no evidence of a difference in therapy completion, drop-out rates or adverse events between the two delivery modes. There was weak evidence that those who completed EMDR online and had available data (N = 29), had slightly lower PTSD scores at the end of therapy compared to those who received in-person EMDR (N = 24) (17.1 (SD = 3.2) versus 24.5 (SD = 3.0), mean difference = 7.8, 95% CI −0.3, 15.9, p = .06). However, groups were not randomised and only those who completed treatment were analysed, so estimates may be biased. 11 patients and five therapists were interviewed. Overall, both therapists and clients viewed online EMDR as safe and effective. Benefits mentioned by clients included feeling more in control and not having to travel. Clients’ concerns related to lack of privacy and ‘transition time/space’ between therapy and their daily lives. Conclusion: Results suggest that online EMDR is an acceptable, safe and effective alternative to in-person EMDR for PTSD in this service.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics (CNGG)
Publisher: Taylor and Francis Group
ISSN: 2000-8066
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 October 2023
Date of Acceptance: 18 October 2023
Last Modified: 20 Dec 2023 14:02

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