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In Psychological medicine ; h5-index 82.0

BACKGROUND : Considerable heterogeneity exists in treatment response to first-line posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatments, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). Relatively little is known about the timing of when during a course of care the treatment response becomes apparent. Novel machine learning methods, especially continuously updating prediction models, have the potential to address these gaps in our understanding of response and optimize PTSD treatment.

METHODS : Using data from a 3-week (n = 362) CPT-based intensive PTSD treatment program (ITP), we explored three methods for generating continuously updating prediction models to predict endpoint PTSD severity. These included Mixed Effects Bayesian Additive Regression Trees (MixedBART), Mixed Effects Random Forest (MERF) machine learning models, and Linear Mixed Effects models (LMM). Models used baseline and self-reported PTSD symptom severity data collected every other day during treatment. We then validated our findings by examining model performances in a separate, equally established, 2-week CPT-based ITP (n = 108).

RESULTS : Results across approaches were very similar and indicated modest prediction accuracy at baseline (R2 ~ 0.18), with increasing accuracy of predictions of final PTSD severity across program timepoints (e.g. mid-program R2 ~ 0.62). Similar findings were obtained when the models were applied to the 2-week ITP. Neither the MERF nor the MixedBART machine learning approach outperformed LMM prediction, though benefits of each may differ based on the application.

CONCLUSIONS : Utilizing continuously updating models in PTSD treatments may be beneficial for clinicians in determining whether an individual is responding, and when this determination can be made.

Smith Dale L, Held Philip


Cognitive processing therapy, PTSD, longitudinal analysis, machine learning, precision medicine, veterans