Bormann JE (VA San Diego & SDSU), Thorp S
(VA San Diego & UCSD), Wetherell JL
(VA San Diego & UCSD), Golshan S
(UCSD), Fellows I
(UCSD), Lang A
(VA San Diego & UCSD), Gershwin M
(VA San Diego), Kelly A
(VA San Diego & National University), Bone P
(VA San Diego), Belding W
(VA San Diego)
Despite evidence that spiritual well-being is associated with quality of life in patients with chronic illness, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, little attention has been given to spiritual interventions for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This study tested the hypothesis that silently repeating a mantram—a sacred word or phrase—intermittently throughout the day could significantly reduce PTSD symptoms and improve quality of life and spiritual well-being.
A randomized clinical trial was conducted to compare a 6-week (90-minutes/week) mantram intervention (n = 66) to a usual care delayed-treatment control group (n = 70). Health outcomes included Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), PTSD Checklist (PCL), SF-12 Health Survey, and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy—Spiritual Well-Being scale (FACIT-SWB). T-tests were conducted to compare post-treatment minus pre-treatment change scores by group. Participants included 136 outpatient veterans with chronic PTSD (97% male, 59% Caucasian, 24% African American, 7% Hispanic, 10% other, and 53% married/cohabitating). They ranged in age from 25 to 83 (M = 57, SD = 9.26), averaged 14 years (SD = 2.1) of education, and experienced an average of 13 months (SD = 10.0) of combat.
There were significant reductions in PCL in the mantram group (M = -6.3, SD = 11.22) compared to controls (M = -2.6, SD = 7.16, p = .03). CAPS decreased with greater improvement in the mantram group (M = -17.9, SD = 21.55) than controls (M = -11.3, SD = 18.97, p = .07). PTSD diagnosis in the mantram group was reduced in 32% compared to 15% in the control group (?2 = 4.74, df = 1, p = .03). SF-12 mental health improved in the mantram group (M = 3.33, SD = 8.02) compared to controls (M = .07, SD = 8.55, p = .03). Spiritual well-being significantly increased in mantram group (M = 4.67, SD = 6.15) compared to a decrease in controls (M = -0.33, SD = 5.12, p < .001).
Evidence suggests that a group mantram intervention may beneficially augment treatment for chronic PTSD symptoms in veterans. More research is needed to assess long-term effects and sustainability of practice.
Complementary practices that are evidenced-based may provide additional therapeutic options for managing military-related PTSD symptoms in veterans. Such practices have less “mental illness-related stigma,” and therefore, may be acceptable to a larger number veterans.