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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Puerto Rico selected for global study on trauma-focused therapy



The collaborative global study will evaluate the effectiveness of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy delivered via telehealth compared to the in-person format, using a randomized controlled trial.

By The Star Staff


Puerto Rico has been chosen to conduct the first global study to evaluate the impact of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) through telehealth versus an in-person modality.


The announcement was made by Dr. Rosaura Orengo Aguayo of the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), along with Dr. Wendy Fernández from APS Healthcare and Carmen Bonet Vázquez, who heads the Mental Health and Anti-Addiction Services Administration (ASSMCA by its Spanish initials).


“A traumatic event is something that goes beyond the normal day-to-day human experience,” said Orengo Aguayo, who highlighted the importance of the study in Puerto Rico due to the trauma generated by natural disasters such as hurricanes Irma and Maria, earthquakes and the COVID-19 pandemic.


The study will evaluate the effectiveness of TF-CBT delivered via telehealth compared to the in-person format, using a randomized controlled trial.


“Telehealth is a possible solution for closing the gaps in access to mental health services,” Orengo Aguayo noted.


The collaboration between MUSC, APS Healthcare and ASSMCA is key to the project, which seeks to validate TF-CBT in the context of Puerto Rico. APS Healthcare has previously worked with MUSC on TF-CBT studies, showing successful results in reducing post-traumatic stress symptoms in youth.


“TF-CBT treatment was effective in reducing symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety in youth exposed to trauma in Puerto Rico,” Orengo Aguayo said.


The previous results have been published in the scientific journal Child Abuse and Neglect.


Bonet Vázquez, the ASSMCA administrator, stressed the importance of using evidence-based practices to address the mental health needs of Puerto Rican youth. Dr. José Luis Massa, vice president of Medical Affairs at APS, stated that “the future of mental health in our country depends on collaborations between the mental health and academic sectors.”


Children and young people between 7 and 18 years old who struggle with mental health symptoms due to traumatic events, and their caregivers, are invited to participate in the study. More information is available by contacting Katy Avilés López at 787-659-3782 or avilesmk@musc.edu.

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