Both mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and present-centered group therapy (PCGT) were found to significantly improve post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veterans, according to study results published in Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice.

Researchers conducted a multicenter randomized controlled trial of 214 veterans with PTSD from January 2012 through September 2013. Study patients were randomly allocated to receive either 90 minutes of MBSR therapy or PCGT weekly for 8 weeks. The MBSR arm involved body scan and sitting meditations, as well as mindful stretching, whereas the PCGT arm included focus on current events rather than prior traumas and education, reduced isolation, shared group support, and sense of safety.

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The primary outcome was the change in symptom score from baseline to 9 weeks, measured using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-IV (CAPS-IV). Patients were excluded from the study if they had considered suicide or had psychotic symptoms.

The researchers found that both treatment groups demonstrated improvement in PTSD symptoms and no significant differences between the groups were observed. The only exception was significant improvement in symptoms on the self-reported PTSD Checklist for DSMIV measured at 9 weeks (P =.04), but the benefit was not maintained at week 16.

One key limitation of the study was the predominantly male patient population and its high attrition rate. “The overall small effect sizes of mindfulness-based meditation should be viewed with caution in the context of larger effect sizes of trauma-focused behavioral psychotherapies,” the researchers wrote.

“Additional studies are needed to better understand the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction for the treatment of PTSD,” they concluded.

Disclosures: Some authors have declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please refer to the original study for a full list of disclosures.

Reference

Davis LL, Whetsell C, Hamner MB, et al. A Multisite Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in the Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder [published online September 13, 2018]. Psych Res Clin Pract. doi:10.1176/appi.prcp.20180002