Translational research highlights the potential of novel 'memory consolidation/reconsolidation therapies' to treat re-experiencing symptoms and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the efficacy of so-called memory consolidation/reconsolidation therapies in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) for prevention and treatment of PTSD and symptoms of re-experiencing in children and adults (PROSPERO: CRD42020171167).
RCTs were identified and rated for risk of bias. Available data was pooled to calculate risk ratios (RR) for PTSD prevalence and standardised mean differences (SMD) for PTSD/re-experiencing severity. Twenty-five RCTs met inclusion criteria (16 prevention and nine treatment trials). The methodology of most studies had a significant risk of bias. We found a large effect of reconsolidation interventions in the treatment of PTSD (11 studies, n = 372, SMD: -1.42 (-2.25 to -0.58), and a smaller positive effect of consolidation interventions in the prevention of PTSD (12 studies, n = 2821, RR: 0.67 (0.50 to 0.90).
Only three protocols (hydrocortisone for PTSD prevention, Reconsolidation of Traumatic Memories (RTM) for treatment of PTSD symptoms and cognitive task memory interference procedure with memory reactivation (MR) for intrusive memories) were superior to control.
There is some emerging evidence of consolidation and reconsolidation therapies in the prevention and treatment of PTSD and intrusive memories specifically. Translational research should strictly adhere to protocols/procedures describing precise reconsolidation conditions (e.g. MR) to both increase the likelihood of positive findings and more confidently interpret negative findings of putative reconsolidation agents.
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