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According to the results of a large-scale meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), Tilburg University and the University of London, more than half of all people affected by post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS) suffer from its effects for several years. The findings have been published in this month's Clinical Psychology Review.

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Researchers conducting the analysis looked at longitudinal studies of individuals with PTSS who had been observed for a relatively long period of time (10-204 months), spanning 42 studies and 81,462 participants in total.

'Our analysis shows that after the passage of an average of 40 months, PTSS had diminished in only 44% of cases. This means that 56% of these people continued to suffer from PTSS for a long time – for 40 months or more. We feel it's extremely important to ensure PTSS patients are offered the right psychiatric support to reduce their suffering', says UvA researcher Nexhmedin Morina.

PTSS can develop following a traumatic event such as an accident, sexual abuse or a war-related experience. In Europe, approximately 2% of the population is affected by this anxiety disorder. In regions where the population is exposed to traumatic events such as a natural disaster or war, its prevalence is much higher. Currently, most people who have PTSS do not receive any type of mental support.

'There has been a lot of research into PTSS', Morina explains, 'and it's thanks to the work of those researchers that we could conduct this meta-analysis. Doing this analysis was important because PTSS remission figures fluctuate within the existing body of studies, and in some cases even within single populations. Our meta-analysis has made it possible to indicate an average rate of remission based on the data currently available.'

Publication details

Nexhmedin Morina, Jelte M. Wicherts, Jakob Lobbrecht and Stefan Priebe: Remission from post-traumatic stress disorder in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis of long term outcome studies. Clinical Psychology Review (vol. 34, No. 3, pp. 249-255 (April 2014)).