About the PTSD Repository
For Everyone

What is it?

The best way for us to learn about PTSD treatments is through research. The National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD) created the PTSD Repository to gather the best treatment research in one place.
The PTSD Repository is a database—it brings together information from 496 published studies on a wide range of PTSD treatments. We update it each year to include data from new studies. There are over 300 variables (or pieces of information) from each study. The “For Everyone” section includes basic data stories that summarize what we know from research. These stories use charts and tables–called visualizations—to help you “see” the data and understand how it helps us decide which treatments work best.

What is in it?

All treatment studies in the PTSD Repository include adults with PTSD. The studies look at PTSD outcomes, like symptom change during and after treatment. Some studies also examine the impact of the PTSD treatment on other mental health conditions and related problems (such as difficulty sleeping or anger).
PTSD became a diagnosis in 1980 and the PTSD Repository goes back to the beginning of treatment research. This database contains  treatment studies published from January 1988 through February 2023.
Which PTSD treatments are included in the PTSD Repository?
There are many different types of treatment and we created 8 main categories to organize studies:
  • Psychotherapy is talk therapy with a licensed provider. We also divided psychotherapies into “trauma-focused” or “non-trauma-focused” for more detail. 
  • Pharmacotherapy uses medications. Medications are grouped into drug classes such as antidepressants and antiadrenergic medications or could be looked at individually (by a specific drug name). 
  • Complementary and integrative health (CIH) is a wide category of approaches that are considered to be outside of usual Western medicine practices or that are used in coordination with standard approaches. 
  • Nonpharmacologic biological treatments use a medical device or medical procedure of some kind. 
  • Nonpharmacologic cognitive treatments teach cognitive skills (such as attention training) to improve focus. 
  • Collaborative care treatments are those in which integrated medical and mental health treatment is delivered, often in primary care by nurse managers. 
  • Controls are conditions (or interventions) that the group not selected for the treatment being tested receive, such as placebo pill, waitlist, or treatment as usual.
  • Other treatments include studies that did not fit the main 7 classifications (such as, animal-assisted therapy, physical therapies, and internet-based facilitated self-help).
Some studies test more than one treatment, so may be a combined category (like “Psychotherapy  & Pharmacotherapy"). For more detail, see our Reference Guide: Treatments Found in the PTSD-Repository that outlines the organization and provides definitions.

How do I know this is good science? 

Because of who created it
The PTSD Repository is a project of the Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (NCPTSD), the world's leading research and educational center of excellence on PTSD and traumatic stress. Since the Center was founded in 1989, NCPTSD researchers have been recognized for their contributions to what we know about the causes, assessment, and treatment of PTSD. NCPTSD collaborates with the Pacific Northwest Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC), a research center at Oregon Health & Science University with experience doing research reviews as part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) EPC Program. Together, NCPTSD and EPC gather data and information from research articles to update the PTSD Repository.
Because of how we built it
Data is collected using AHRQ's Methods Guide for Effectiveness and Comparative Effectiveness Reviews. This work brings together an expert panel with members who have expertise in researching and providing  PTSD treatment. We consulted with these experts throughout the development process. We also received input from independent peer reviewers and the public before publication.

Because of what's in it
The PTSD Repository includes data drawn from the most rigorous type of treatment research study: randomized controlled trials, or RCTs. RCTs are studies that assign participants in the study randomly—by chance—to the treatment(s) being examined. RCTs provide the strongest level of scientific evidence because assigning participants randomly improves our confidence that changes in PTSD symptoms are due to the treatments themselves.
Please contact us at NCPTSD@va.gov if you have any questions.

Understanding treatment studies

Learn more about randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and other types of treatment studies in this short video.