Augmenting PTSD treatment with physical activity: study protocol of the APPART study (Augmentation for PTSD with Physical Activity in a Randomized Trial)

E M Voorendonk, S A Sanches, M S Tollenaar, A De Jongh, A Van Minnen

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New intensive trauma-focused treatment (TFT) programmes that incorporate physical activity have been developed for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, the unique contribution of physical activity within these intensive TFT programmes has never been investigated in a controlled manner.


This randomized controlled trial will investigate the effectiveness of physical activity added to an intensive TFT programme. In addition, the study aims to investigate the underlying mechanisms of the effects of physical activity on the change in PTSD symptoms.


Individuals with PTSD (N = 120) will be randomly allocated to two conditions: a physical activity or a non-physical active control condition. All participants will receive the same intensive TFT lasting eight days within two consecutive weeks, in which daily prolonged exposure and EMDR therapy sessions, and psycho-education are combined. The amount of physical activity will differ per condition. While the physical activity condition induces daily physical activities with moderate intensity, in the non-physical active control condition no physical activity is prescribed; but instead, a controlled mixture of guided (creative) tasks is performed. The two primary outcome measures are change in PTSD symptoms from pre- to post-treatment and at six months follow-up, measured with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS-5), and the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5). Additionally, self-reported sleep problems, depressive symptoms, emotion regulation, dissociation symptoms and anxiety sensitivity will be measured as potential underlying mechanisms.


This study will contribute to the research field of augmentation strategies for PTSD treatment by investigating the effectiveness of physical activity added to intensive TFT.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2016219
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022


  • Exercise
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Physical Activity
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Prolonged Exposure
  • Mediators
  • Emdr Therapy
  • Intensive Trauma-focused Treatment
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic
  • Adult
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands
  • Female
  • Male
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing


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