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Online tools helping people cope with PTSD

Researchers at Boston University and a Boston division of the National Center for PTSD have developed an online model for treating people with symptoms of PTSD and heavy alcohol use. Terence M. Keane, a lead researcher, said he hopes the results of a recent study will lead to similar online tools for people coping with PTSD and other behavioral health problems:

- 600 people were recruited using targeted Facebook advertisements.

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- Most participants were white, in the Army, had been deployed two or more times, and had been exposed to a range of combat events.

- All were considered heavy drinkers, though researchers excluded those determined to be alcohol dependent because they worried about people facing withdrawal alone.

- Participants provided an e-mail address, but no name.

- Two-thirds were randomly selected to immediately begin an eight-part program to evaluate their drinking and develop ways to cope with PTSD symptoms that did not involve alcohol. The others started the same program two months later.

- 187 people in the first group completed all evaluations. They reported a greater reduction in PTSD symptoms, binge drinking, and average drinks per week than the group waiting for access to the program.

- Three months after completing the program, the first group reported a continued reduction in alcohol intake.

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