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Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (August 2011)

Principal Investigator: Jennifer L. Strauss, Ph.D.; Co-Investigators: Remy Coeytaux, M.D., Ph.D.; Jennifer McDuffie, Ph.D.; John W. Williams Jr., M.D., M.H.Sc

Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center Durham VA Medical Center

Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs; August 2011

Download PDF: Complete Report, Executive Summary, Report, Appendices

See also report supplement: An Overview of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies for Anxiety and Depressive Disorders (906 KB, PDF)

Summary / Overview

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is the emotional disorder most frequently associated with combat and other potentially traumatic experiences that may occur during military service. It is often chronic and may be associated with significant comorbidities and functional impairments. Current first-line PTSD therapies include trauma-focused cognitive behavioral psychotherapies, stress inoculation training, and pharmacotherapies. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) interventions include a range of therapies that are not considered standard to the practice of medicine in the U.S. CAM therapies are widely used by mental health consumers, including Veterans, and numerous stakeholders have expressed strong interest in fostering the evidence base for these approaches in PTSD. Thus, this evidence synthesis was requested by VA Research and Development to inform decisions on the need for research in this area.

The Key Questions were:

Key Question #1: In adults with PTSD, are mind-body complementary and alternative medicine therapies (e.g., acupuncture, yoga, meditation) more efficacious than control for PTSD symptoms and health-related quality of life? Key Question #2: In adults with PTSD, are manipulative and body-based complementary and alternative medicine therapies (e.g., spinal manipulation, massage) more efficacious than control for PTSD symptoms and health-related quality of life? Key Question #3: In adults with PTSD, are complementary and alternative medicine therapies that are movement-based or involve energy therapies more efficacious than control for PTSD symptoms and health-related quality of life? Key Question #4: For treatments evaluated in KQs 1�3 that lack randomized controlled trials, is there evidence from other study designs that suggests the potential for treatment efficacy?

See also