Proof of Concept for the Autobiographical Memory Flexibility (MemFlex) Intervention for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Autobiographical memory distortions are a key feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In this proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial (N = 43), we evaluated an autobiographical memory flexibility intervention, MemFlex. We aimed to determine whether the mechanism-focused intervention, which aims to improve autobiographical memory processes, may also affect other cognitive predictors of PTSD and potentially reduce PTSD symptoms in Iranian trauma survivors diagnosed with PTSD. Results indicated significant, moderate to large between-groups effect sizes in favor of MemFlex, relative to wait-list control, for the targeted cognitive mechanism of autobiographical memory flexibility and PTSD symptoms. A large, significant effect was also observed on maladaptive posttraumatic cognitions—a strong predictor of PTSD prognosis, which is a key target of high-intensity cognitive therapies for PTSD. Findings support future completion of a scaled-up trial to evaluate treatment efficacy of MemFlex for PTSD to determine whether MemFlex may offer a culturally adaptive, low-cost, low-intensity intervention able to improve cognitive mechanisms of PTSD.