Bormann JE (VA San Diego Healthcare System), Hurst S
(University of California San Diego), Thorp S
(VA San Diego Healthcare System & University of California San Diego), Wetherell JL
(VA San Diego Healthcare System & University of California San Diego), Golshan S
(University of California San Diego)
Despite evidence that complementary mind-body therapies enhance quality of life in patients with chronic illness, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, little attention has been given to these approaches for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study investigated the application of an innovative, complementary, non-pharmacological program of mantram repetition. It is the self-care practice of silently repeating a traditional, spiritually-based word or phrase intermittently throughout the day to manage unwanted thoughts or feelings. Unlike other meditative practices that require a quiet environment, particular posture, or eyes closed, mantram repetition can be conveniently practiced at any time or place.
The data used in this analysis comes from the first 18 participants who completed a larger randomized trial on mantram repetition. Qualitative responses were extracted from semi-structured telephone interviews conducted at 3-months following the intervention. Interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and coded to examine the number of incidents reported and how participants responded to those incidents.
Participants included 18 outpatient male veterans with PTSD (67% Caucasian, 17% Pacific Islander, 11% African American and 5%) ranging in age from 39 to 75 (M=56+ 6.5) with an average of 11+ 7.5 months of combat. They reported a total of 100 incidents. Of these, the highest number was categorized as hyper-arousal (n=68). The most frequently reported examples of hyper-arousal included irritable/angry outbursts (n=34), hyper-vigilance (n=15) and sleep disturbances (n=10). All participants reported using mantram repetition effectively. It was most effective for relaxing/calming down (n=40), diverting attention away from the triggering incident (n=14), and thinking clearly and rationally (n=12).
Preliminary evidence suggests that the practice of mantram repetition is of value for managing a wide range of situations in a small sample of veterans with PTSD. Additional analyses are ongoing.
Evidenced-based complementary and spiritually-based practices may provide beneficial and therapeutic options for managing PTSD in veterans. Funded by HSR&D Nursing Research Initiative grant (04-041-1) and supported by VA San Diego Office of Nursing Service.