Feasibility of EMDR in Older Adults with PTSD to Reduce Frailty and Improve Quality of Life

Ellen M. J. Gielkens*, Kim Turksma, Leonieke W. Kranenburg, Lara Stas, Sjacko Sobczak, Sebastiaan P. J. van Alphen, Gina Rossi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after exposure to multiple (childhood) trauma’s is strongly associated with accelerated aging and high psychiatric and somatic comorbidity, influencing frailty and Quality of Life (QoL) in older adults. Eye Movement Desensitization therapy (EMDR) addresses psychological and physiologic symptoms stemming from adverse life events and therefore could influence frailty and QoL in older adults. Methods: We conducted a multi-center feasibility study (two psychiatric hospitals) in Dutch older outpatients (N = 24; ≥60 years) with PTSD. Participants received weekly EMDR-treatment during the course of the trial (3 months to a maximum of 9 months). Frailty (Groninger Frailty Indicator) and QoL (EuroQol 5D-3L), were assessed pre- and posttreatment. Results: A linear mixed-model approach showed significant reduction of frailty (F(1,23) = 9.019, p = .006) and improvement of QoL (F(1,23) = 13.787, p = .001). For both frailty and QoL, there was no significant influence of Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5) pre-treatment score, therapy duration, and neither an interaction effect of therapy duration x CAPS-5 pre-treatment score. Conclusions: EMDR with older adults with PTSD showed a significant reduction of frailty and improvement of QoL. Randomized controlled studies are needed to more precisely study the impact of trauma-focused treatment in older adults on frailty and QoL and the implications this might have for lessening disease burden. Clinical implications: Screening for PTSD in older frail adults is important to treat PTSD as a possible way to reduce frailty and improve QoL.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Early online date4 Sept 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sept 2022

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