Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress

Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Published in: Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 2016

Posted on RAND.org on October 07, 2016

by Lara Hilton, Alicia Ruelaz Ruelaz, Benjamin Colaiaco, Eric Apaydin, Melony E. Sorbero, Marika Booth, Roberta M. Shanman, Susanne Hempel

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OBJECTIVE: We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis that synthesized evidence from randomized controlled trials of meditation interventions to provide estimates of their efficacy and safety in treating adults diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This review was based on an established protocol (PROSPERO: CRD42015025782) and is reported according to PRISMA guidelines. Outcomes of interest included PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety, health-related quality of life, functional status, and adverse events. METHOD: Meta-analyses were conducted using the Hartung-Knapp-Sidik-Jonkman method for random-effects models. Quality of evidence was assessed using the Grade of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach. RESULTS: In total, 10 trials on meditation interventions for PTSD with 643 participants met inclusion criteria. Across interventions, adjunctive meditation interventions of mindfulness-based stress reduction, yoga, and the mantram repetition program improve PTSD and depression symptoms compared with control groups, but the findings are based on low and moderate quality of evidence. Effects were positive but not statistically significant for quality of life and anxiety, and no studies addressed functional status. The variety of meditation intervention types, the short follow-up times, and the quality of studies limited analyses. No adverse events were reported in the included studies; only half of the studies reported on safety. CONCLUSIONS: Meditation appears to be effective for PTSD and depression symptoms, but in order to increase confidence in findings, more high-quality studies are needed on meditation as adjunctive treatment with PTSD-diagnosed participant samples large enough to detect statistical differences in outcomes.

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