Training Manual Completed for Independent Raters in MDMA/PTSD Studies

The increasing number and global reach of MAPS’ MDMA-assisted psychotherapy studies means that maintaining consistency of therapeutic approach across study sites is essential. In light of this challenge, MAPS has created a training manual for the blinded independent raters involved in our studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD. The purpose of this manual and its accompanying video tutorials is to provide instruction in the reliable administration of the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), the primary outcome variable in our studies used to evaluate the severity of PTSD symptoms before and after treatment with MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.

The CAPS was one of the first diagnostic interviews developed specifically for PTSD. Because of the flexibility of the CAPS interview format, there can be differences between how interviewers use it to evaluate PTSD symptoms. By standardizing how these interviews are conducted and scored, we will obtain more consistent data and in doing so enable our research staff to conduct meta-analyses and compare data across sites—of major importance when conducting international clinical trials.

The manual will enable our independent raters to (1) identify symptoms of PTSD, (2) understand the history and purpose of the CAPS, (3) become familiar with the features of the CAPS, (4) become familiar with techniques in completing the CAPS interview, (5) understand the benefits and limitations of using the CAPS for assessing the effects of exposure to traumatic events, and (6) score the CAPS interview reliably and effectively. Based on training materials provided by the US Veterans Administration, the manual was collaboratively developed by MAPS Lead Clinical Research Associate Berra Yazar-Klosinski, Ph.D., MAPS Research and Information Specialist L. (Ilsa) Jerome, Ph.D., and MAPS Clinical Program Manager Amy Emerson. Videos of real CAPS interviews will be used to assess the effectiveness of the training manual.