“It Leaves Me Very Skeptical” Messaging in Marketing Prolonged Exposure and Cognitive Processing Therapy to Veterans With PTSD

Shannon M. Kehle-Forbes, Melissa A. Polusny, Nina A. Sayer, Heather Gerould, Melissa R Partin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Direct-to-consumer marketing has the potential to increase demand for specific treatments, but little is known about how to best market evidence-based psychotherapies to veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The objective of this study was to gain an understanding of marketing messages that may impact veteran demand for prolonged exposure (PE) and cognitive processing therapy (CPT).

METHOD: Veterans (n = 31) with full or subthreshold PTSD participated in semistructured interviews that queried attitudes about PTSD and recovery, current knowledge of PE and CPT, and reactions to existing educational materials. A 2-stage qualitative coding and analytic strategy was used to identify primary themes related to the marketing of PE and CPT.

RESULTS: Veterans viewed the treatments' effectiveness as their primary selling point but questioned the credibility of improvement descriptions that didn't fit with their experiences or beliefs about PTSD. Participants had difficulties distinguishing CPT from non-trauma-focused approaches in which they had previously participated, leading to skepticism about promised treatment effects and decreased interest. Without targeting, women veterans assumed information regarding PTSD treatment options applied only to men.

CONCLUSIONS: Examination of the impact of a direct-to-consumer marketing campaign including these messages on PE and CPT demand is needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-852
Number of pages4
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number5
Early online dateJan 20 2020
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This material is based upon work supported by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Quality Enhancement Research Initiative, Grant RRP12-512. Shannon M. Kehle-Forbes was supported by VA Health Services Research & Development Career Development Award CDA09-020. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. government. Marketing materials resulting from the reported study are available at https://www.ccdor.research.va.gov/CCDORRESEARCH/Resources.asp.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.All Rights Reserved


  • Evidence-based psychotherapy
  • Implementation
  • Ptsd
  • Social marketing
  • Veterans
  • United States
  • Humans
  • Veterans/psychology
  • Male
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic/psychology
  • Marketing
  • Implosive Therapy
  • Female
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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