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Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia Change during Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Results from a Randomized Controlled Feasibility Trial

By C. E. Shenk, B. Allen, N. A. Dreschel, M. Wang, J. M. Felt, M. P. Brown, A. M. Bucher, M. J. Chen, A. E. Olson

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Abstract

Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is a well-established treatment for pediatric posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been proposed as an adjunct to TF-CBT that may improve treatment effects through enhanced targeting of affect regulation, as indexed by specific changes in the respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). The current study reports results from a randomized controlled feasibility trial (N = 33; M(age) = 11.79 [SD = 3.08]; 64% White; 67% female) that measured RSA during Sessions 1, 4, 8, and 12 of a twelve-session TF-CBT protocol and tested whether: 1) TF-CBT + AAT achieved higher average RSA amplitudes relative to TF-CBT alone, and 2) RSA regulation, defined as less variability around person-specific RSA slopes during treatment, explained variation in post-treatment PTSD symptoms. Multilevel modeling failed to support an effect for TF-CBT + AAT on RSA amplitudes (δ(001) = 0.08, p = 0.844). However, regardless of treatment condition, greater RSA withdrawal was observed within Sessions 4 (γ(11) = -.01, p 

Publication Title Res Child Adolesc Psychopathol
Pages 1-13
ISBN/ISSN 2730-7166 (Print)2730-7166
DOI 10.1007/s10802-022-00946-w
Author Address Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA. ces140@psu.edu.Department of Pediatrics, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA. ces140@psu.edu.The Pennsylvania State University, 115 Health and Human Development Building, University Park, PA, 16802, USA. ces140@psu.edu.Department of Pediatrics, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.Center for the Protection of Children, The Pennsylvania State University Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey, PA, USA.Department of Animal Science, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.Department of Public Health Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey, PA, USA.Center for Healthy Aging, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.Department of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA.Department of Human Development and Family Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
Additional Language English
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  1. Behavioral disciplines and activities
  2. open access
  3. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  4. randomized trials
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  1. open access