International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

Toward Practice Guidelines for PTSD

Posted 1 April 1996 in StressPoints by Harold Kudler, MD

At the Business Meeting of the 1995 ISTSS Annual Meeting, I suggested that the Society consider developing practice guidelines for the treatment of PTSD. This initiative does not stem from any desire to direct or constrain the practice of clinicians in the field. Rather it represents concern about managed care requirements for obtaining treatment. These include the ability to define the necessity for treatment and to prescribe a professionally sanctioned course of therapy.

The ISTSS is the logical body to develop practice guidelines for PTSD. This is not a prerogative but a responsibility. Clinician-generated practice guidelines would be preferable to those generated by insurance companies. If we fail to take the lead, other professional societies will define the standard. ISTSS action may also inform ongoing Veterans Affairs deliberations on the treatment of PTSD. Our efforts may help alert primary care providers to PTSD and direct their liaison with mental health professionals.

We have a clear opportunity to harness our expertise for the benefit of our patients. ISTSS President Matthew Friedman asked me to head a task force of interested ISTSS members to see whether it is possible to achieve a consensus on recommended PTSD practice guidelines. He will present our recommendations to the Board of Directors for further action. Those of you who have already been working on such guidelines or who have an interest in joining this effort are encouraged to contact me at 919/286-6933.