Healing Touch With Guided Imagery for PTSD in Returning Active Duty Military: A Randomized Controlled Trial
ABSTRACT Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains a significant problem in returning military and warrants swift and effective treatment. We conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine whether a complementary medicine intervention (Healing Touch with Guided Imagery [HT+GI]) reduced PTSD symptoms as compared to treatment as usual (TAU) returning combat-exposed active duty military with significant PTSD symptoms. Active duty military (n = 123) were randomized to 6 sessions (within 3 weeks) of HT+GI vs. TAU. The primary outcome was PTSD symptoms; secondary outcomes were depression, quality of life, and hostility. Repeated measures analysis of covariance with intent-to-treat analyses revealed statistically and clinically significant reduction in PTSD symptoms (p < 0.0005, Cohen's d = 0.85) as well as depression (p < 0.0005, Cohen's d = 0.70) for HT+GI vs. TAU. HT+GI also showed significant improvements in mental quality of life (p = 0.002, Cohen's d = 0.58) and cynicism (p = 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.49) vs. TAU. Participation in a complementary medicine intervention resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active duty military population. Further investigation of GT and biofield therapy approaches for mitigating PTSD in military populations is warranted.
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