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Oman D, Bormann JE. Holy Name / Prayer Word / Mantram Repetition Fosters Self-Efficacy for Managing PTSD in Veterans: A Randomized Trial. Poster session presented at: American Psychological Association Annual Convention; 2012 Aug 4; Orlando, FL.
Objective: Few spiritual practices have been empirically tested for mitigating symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study investigated the effects of a portable mantram (sacred word or prayer) intervention for enhancing self-efficacy in managing PTSD symptoms in veterans with military-related PTSD. Intervention recipients are encouraged to choose a holy name / prayer word / mantram from a spiritual or religious tradition. Examples include "Jesus", "Om mani padme hum," "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us," "Hail Mary", "Barukh attah Adonai," and "Rama." Previous randomized studies have linked mantram repetition with decreased PTSD symptom severity, anger, and distress, and improved quality of life, faith/assurance, spiritual connectedness, and spiritual well-being. Method: A prospective, randomized trial was conducted. outpatient veterans with PTSD (n = 146) were randomly assigned to either (1) usual care with a 6-week group program of instruction in mantram repetition, or (2) usual care alone. Repeating a mantram, silently throughout the day at any time or place, was used to slow down thoughts and interrupt unwanted behaviors while improving concentration and attention. Self-efficacy, PTSD symptoms, and numerous participant characteristics were assessed at baseline (Week 1). Self-efficacy was assessed weekly during the intervention (Weeks 2-5) as well as at post-intervention (Week 6), when PTSD symptoms were also assessed. Treatment effects were analyzed with Hierarchical Linear Models (HLMs). Results: Self-efficacy increased approximately linearly from Week 2 to Week 6, when it showed significant treatment effects (p < .01). Self-efficacy treatment effects were larger among participants who were whites (p < .05), had higher incomes (p < .05), and were nonreligious (p < .10, marginal trend). Analyses using criteria of Baron and Kenny (1986) supported mediation by self-efficacy of treatment effects on PTSD symptoms as measured by checklist (p < .05) and clinician assessment (p < .10). Conclusion: Mantram intervention appears to increase levels of self-efficacy in managing PTSD symptom severity.