Professor ‘Taken Aback’ by Findings Linking PTSD Treatment With Lower Diabetes Risk

Professor ‘Taken Aback’ by Findings Linking PTSD Treatment With Lower Diabetes Risk

UVA professor Peter Tuerk said the next step is to try and replicate the findings. (Photo by Dan Addison, University Communications) niversity of Virginia professor and clinical psychologist Peter Tuerk and his colleagues at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and the National Center for PTSD were surprised at the size of their findings. Could people who improved their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms really have lessened their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes about 50 percent, as the study seemed to indicate? The results of the group’s study were just published in a paper that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Earlier this week, UVA Today caught up with Tuerk, a professor of education in the Curry School of Education and Human Development and director of the school’s Sheila C. Johnson Center for Clinical Services, to take a deeper dive into the study. Q. What did you learn about the relationship between PTSD improvement and Type 2 diabetes? A. In simplest terms, the people who experienced meaningful reductions in PTSD symptoms subsequently also experienced about a 50 percent reduction in their risk for Type 2 diabetes. This is quite a large decrease, actually. It’s almost on par with the reduction you might see with some bariatric surgeries or other aggressive interventions directly targeting aspects of physical health. The paper was basically asking, “Is a reduction in PTSD mental health problems associated with a reduction in the risk for physical health problems down the road?” Given how much positive emotional and behavioral change can occur when people undergo evidence-based treatment for PTSD, we were not surprised to also see improvement in physical markers of wellbeing. But we were taken aback by the size of the relationship. One of the most exciting things about this type of work […]

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