TITAN is investigating nightmares caused by traumatic experiences and PTSD.
Caitlin Paquet, a trial coordinator at The University of Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity and Injustice (TITAN), is helping conduct studies on adults who experience nightmares following a traumatic event in their life, called the Nightmare Treatment Studies. The outcome of the study is predicted to help find different therapies that can help individuals suffering from these symptoms.
The Nightmare Treatment Studies are aimed at individual adults who experience frequent nightmares and have also experienced a traumatic event. According to Paquet, “The studies are being conducted so that we can measure the effectiveness of a new cognitive-behavioral treatment for nightmares called Exposure, Relaxation, Rescription Therapy that was developed by Dr. Joanne Davis.”
According to Paquet, the “research so far has shown that these treatments can help to decrease the frequency of and the distress related to nightmares as well as other associated symptoms such as symptoms of depression, insomnia and PTSD.” There are currently multiple trials for people with nightmares and a traumatic history who also have bipolar disorder, PTSD and/or insomnia.
Potential participants are first asked to contact the lab on campus at (918)631-3976 to ask the researchers any questions about the study, and if interested in participating, go through a brief phone screen to determine if the individual is qualified for the study.
After the individual is confirmed as an eligible participant, they would be scheduled for an “initial assessment.” If the person is not eligible based on the phone screening, researchers provide them with information on other resources that might treat their nightmares.
This first assessment in the study takes about three to four hours, and participants are asked more detailed questions about the problems they may be having after the traumatic event, in addition to the nightmares. After this, the participant is asked to complete “self-report questionnaires,” according to Paquet.
After the initial assessment, the trial coordinators of the study then determine which of the four trials would best fit the individual based on the information they gave during the assessment.
Once the appropriate trial is determined and assigned to the participant, they will then undergo therapy sessions that correspond with their specific trial. According to Paquet, depending on the type of trial the participant is placed in, the therapy ranges from five to 17 sessions long. The sessions are conducted weekly, with each lasting around 90 minutes.
After completing all therapy sessions in the trial, the participants are asked to come back to the lab for follow up assessments three- and six-months post-treatment. Paquet adds that “for these follow up sessions we would pay the participant in gift cards for their participation.”
According to TITAN’s website, participants are open to individuals who are at least 18 years of age and have a history of a traumatic event (most recently occurring more than one month ago) and nightmares occurring at least once per week for the past month. Each assessment will be conducted before and in the follow-up phase of the treatment and will last its respected time.
For the adult study, the treatment is a cognitive-behavioral therapy aimed at the nightmare and sleep disturbances, as well as other PTSD symptoms and is focused on adults that have not been diagnosed with bipolar or insomnia.
The Bipolar study is directed at participants who have a formal diagnosis of bipolar I or II disorder, which could be confirmed by their mental health provider. The individuals must also be on a stable dose of medication for at least the past two months, with minor adjustments as needed.
For the last study, participants who experience difficulty falling or staying asleep will be put under the insomnia study. The individual must be currently under the care of another healthcare provider and will be excluded from the study if it is left untreated.
More information about the study can be found on their website at nightmaretreatment.org.