Do Patients Drop Out Prematurely from Exposure Therapy for PTSD?

Elizabeth A. Hembree, Edna B. Foa, Nicole M. Dorfan, Gordon P. Street, Jeanne Kowalski, Xin Tu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Many studies have demonstrated the efficacy of exposure therapy in the treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Despite the convincing outcome literature, a concern that this treatment may exacerbate symptoms and lead to premature dropout has been voiced on the basis of a few reports. In this paper, we examined the hypothesis that treatments that include exposure will be associated with a higher dropout rate than treatments that do not include exposure. A literature search identified 25 controlled studies of cognitive-behavioral treatment for PTSD that included data on dropout. The results indicated no difference in dropout rates among exposure therapy, cognitive therapy, stress inoculation training, and EMDR. These findings are consistent with previous research about the tolerability of exposure therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)555-562
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of traumatic stress
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2003


  • Exposure therapy
  • PTSD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Treatment dropout

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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  • Cite this

    Hembree, E. A., Foa, E. B., Dorfan, N. M., Street, G. P., Kowalski, J., & Tu, X. (2003). Do Patients Drop Out Prematurely from Exposure Therapy for PTSD? Journal of traumatic stress, 16(6), 555-562.