Perceived helpfulness of treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: Findings from the World Mental Health Surveys

Dan J. Stein, Meredith G. Harris, Daniel V. Vigo, Wai Tat Chiu, Nancy Sampson, Jordi Alonso, Yasmin Altwaijri, Brendan Bunting, José Miguel Caldas‐de‐almeida, Alfredo Cía, Marius Ciutan, Louisa Degenhardt, Oye Gureje, Aimee Karam, Elie G. Karam, Sing Lee, Maria Elena Medina‐mora, Zeina Mneimneh, Fernando Navarro‐mateu, José Posada‐villaCharlene Rapsey, Yolanda Torres, Maria Carmen Viana, Yuval Ziv, Ronald C. Kessler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
43 Downloads (Pure)


Perceived helpfulness of treatment is an important healthcare quality indicator in the era of patient‐centered care. We examine probability and predictors of two key components of this indicator for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Data come from World Mental Health surveys in 16 countries. Respondents who ever sought PTSD treatment (n  = 779) were asked if treatment was ever helpful and, if so, the number of professionals they had to see to obtain helpful treatment. Patients whose treatment was never helpful were asked how many professionals they saw. Parallel survival models were estimated for obtaining helpful treatment in a specific encounter and persisting in help‐seeking after earlier unhelpful encounters.

Fifty seven percent of patients eventually received helpful treatment, but survival analysis suggests that it would have been 85.7% if all patients had persisted in help‐seeking with up to six professionals after earlier unhelpful treatment. Survival analysis suggests that only 23.6% of patients would persist to that extent. Odds of ever receiving helpful treatment were positively associated with receiving treatment from a mental health professional, short delays in initiating help‐seeking after onset, absence of prior comorbid anxiety disorders and childhood adversities, and initiating treatment before 2000. Some of these variables predicted helpfulness of specific treatment encounters and others predicted persistence after earlier unhelpful encounters.

The great majority of patients with PTSD would receive treatment they considered helpful if they persisted in help‐seeking after initial unhelpful encounters, but most patients whose initial treatment is unhelpful give up before receiving helpful treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)972-994
Number of pages23
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number10
Early online date15 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 4 Oct 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The World Health Organization World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative is supported by the United States National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; R01 MH070884), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Pfizer Foundation, the United States Public Health Service (R13-MH066849, R01-MH069864, and R01 DA016558), the Fogarty International Center (FIRCA R03-TW006481), the Pan American Health Organization, Eli Lilly and Company, Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The authors thank the staff of the WMH Data Collection and Data Analysis Coordination Centres for assistance with instrumentation, fieldwork, and consultation on data analysis. None of the funders had any role in the design, analysis, interpretation of results, or preparation of this paper. The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the authors and should not be construed to represent the views of the World Health Organization, other sponsoring organizations, agencies, or governments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley Periodicals LLC

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • PTSD
  • cross national
  • epidemiology
  • health services
  • trauma
  • treatment


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived helpfulness of treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: Findings from the World Mental Health Surveys'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this