Yoga for Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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2017-05
Authors
Cushing, Robin E.
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Public Health
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Studies have determined that approximately 15% to 20% of military service members are returning from deployment with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms. The Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) have spent billions on post-9/11 veterans. However, many service members and veterans do not seek treatment due to the stigma of seeking care, side effects of treatment, or fear that a record of treatment will harm their professional military careers. These same individuals look for alternative options, such as mind-body therapies, to help in treating their PTSD symptoms. This dissertation research was comprised of three studies (papers) to address several research questions exploring the usefulness of the mind-body therapies on reducing PTSD symptoms in the military. The first study was a systematic literature review looking at the effect of mind-body therapies on combat veterans and service members suffering from PTSD (Study 1). The major finding of the systematic review was that mind-body therapies are promising therapies for reducing PTSD symptoms in veterans and service members. The second study was single-group pre-posttest study testing a military-tailored, trauma-sensitive yoga intervention with veterans suffering from PTSD (Study 2). I recruited 18 veterans with PTSD symptoms to participate in a 6-week intervention of 60-minute, weekly yoga classes. I compared their baseline and post-intervention responses on scales measuring PTSD symptoms as a primary measure and depression, anxiety, insomnia, and mindfulness as secondary measures. The participants demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms and all of the secondary measures. For Study 3, I conducted interviews with 9 veterans to explore their perceptions of the benefits and barriers to practicing a trauma-sensitive yoga. While Study 2 demonstrated that yoga can yield statistically significant improvements in wellbeing, study 3 provided me a deeper understanding of individual's perspectives of why veterans continue to practice or not practice yoga.
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Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yoga, mind-body therapy, veterans
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