The Center for Mind-Body Medicine

PTSD Research

I. A study showing mind-body skills groups reduced symptoms of PTSD, depression and feelings of hopelessness in Palestinian children and adolescents

Staples JK, Abdel Attai JA, Gordon JS. Mind-body skills groups for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression symptoms in Palestinian children and adolescents in Gaza. International Journal of Stress Management, Vol 18(3), Aug 2011, 246-262. doi: 10.1037/a0024015

It is noteworthy that improvements were maintained at a 7 month follow-up despite ongoing economic hardship and conflict.

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500 children participated in mind-body skills groups taught by 31 CMBM trained health professionals in Gaza in 2007-2008. Prior to participation in the program, 26% of the children had symptoms which qualified them as having PTSD. In those having qualifying PTSD symptoms, the PTSD symptom scores were significantly decreased (56%) following the program. This improvement was partially maintained at 7 month follow-up with a 39% decrease in scores compared to baseline.

56% of those qualifying as having PTSD also qualified as having depression using cutoff values on the Children’s Depression Inventory. The depression scores were significantly decreased (29%) following the program. This improvement was partially maintained at 7 month follow-up with a 20% decrease in scores compared to baseline. The children felt more hopeful about their future and their lives as indicated by a statistically significant decrease in hopelessness scores (28% decrease) following participation in the mind-body skills groups. This improvement was fully maintained at follow-up.

II. The first randomized controlled trial (RCT) of any intervention with war-traumatized children and the first RCT of a successful, comprehensive mind-body approach with any traumatized population

Gordon, James S., Staples, Julie K., Blyta, Afrim, Bytyqi, Murat and Wilson, Amy T. 
Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Postwar Kosovar Adolescents Using  Mind-Body Skills Groups: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2008 Sep;69 (9):1469-76.

This study demonstrates that the Center’s groundbreaking model can be used to produce highly significant and lasting changes in levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms including flashbacks, nightmares, withdrawal and numbing in highly traumatized children, who lived in an area of Kosovo where in 1999 90% of the homes were burned and bombed and 20% of the children lost one or both parents.

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82 high school students in Kosovo participated in this randomized-controlled study. The program was conducted by teachers in an educational, supportive small group setting and included meditation, guided imagery, breathing techniques, and biofeedback as well as self-expression through words, drawings, and movement. All the students met the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which was measured using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Following the program, the number of students having symptoms indicating PTSD was significantly reduced from 100% to 18%. The reduction in symptoms was maintained at a 3 month follow-up.

III.  A pilot study showing significant improvements in PTSD following post-war participation in mind-body skills groups

Gordon, James S., Staples, Julie K., Blyta, Afrim and Bytyqi, Murat. Treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Postwar Kosovo High School Students Using Mind-Body Skills Groups: A Pilot Study.
 Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2004, 17: 143-147. (Posted with permission from the publisher)

The initial study conducted at the same high school in Kosovo as the randomized controlled study above 
 also showed significant improvement in posttraumatic stress symptoms in students following participation  in the mind-body skills group program.

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Posttraumatic Stress Reaction Index questionnaires were collected from 139 students who participated in the first 3 of these programs, and follow-up questionnaires were administered for two of the three programs. The percentage of students having symptoms indicating mild to severe levels of PTSD dropped from 88% before the program to 38% following the program. The benefits were maintained during follow-up in the programs where follow-up questionnaires were administered.

Mind-Body Medicine Training Program Research

I. Survey of program Mind-Body Medicine program graduates shows they were incorporating mind-body skills into their professional and personal practices one year after the training

Staples, Julie K. and Gordon, James S. Effectiveness of a Mind-Body Skills Training Program for Healthcare  Professionals. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 2005, 11(4): 36-41. (Posted with permission  from the publisher)

The survey also shows that program attendees had a greater sense of life satisfaction immediately following the training.

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259 health professionals who had attended The Center’s Mind-Body Medicine’s Professional Training Program from 1998-2001 completed questionnaires on their personal and professional use of mind-body approaches both before and 1 year following the training. 307 graduates completed the the Existential Well-Being (EWB) scale both before and immediately after the training.

There was a significant increase in the number of participants who were teaching their clients to use all the mind-body modalities 1 year after the training. The results showed that participants were teaching the mind-body skills themselves rather than referring clients to others for training. There was also a significant increase in the personal use of mind-body skills by participants 1 year after the training. Immediately following the training, participants had significantly higher life satisfaction scores.

II.  A study performed at Georgetown University School of Medicine with first-year students using The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program

Saunders, P. A., Tractenberg, R. E., Chaterji, R., Amri, H., Harazduk, N., Gordon, J. S., Lumpkin, M., & Haramati, A. Promoting self-awareness and reflection through an experiential Mind-Body Skills course for first year medical students. Medical Teacher, 2007, 29: 778-784.

The results show that mind-body skills groups are a highly valued experiential approach to teaching and promoting self-awareness, self-reflection, and self care with an added benefit of increased awareness of the effectiveness of mind-body skills during medical school.

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492 verbatim responses from 82 first year medical students to six open-ended questions were analyzed. The students reported:

  • Meaningful connections among students and recognizing the importance of relationships to others;
  • Self-discovery, including changing priorities, reaffirmation of currently held beliefs, and open mindedness;
  • Appreciation for learning both mind-body skills and scientific material;
  • Stress relief
  • The value of mind-body skills in medical education.

III.  University of Washington School of Medicine study shows decreased anxiety in 2nd year students

Finkelstein, C., Brownstein, A., Scott, C., & Lan,Y. L.. Anxiety and stress reduction in medical education: an intervention. Medical Education, 2007, 41: 258-264.

This study was performed at the University of Washington School of Medicine with Year 2 medical students using The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program. The results showing decreased anxiety scores in the study group were maintained for 3 months following the course, suggesting that the mind-body skills elective was an effective way to decrease anxiety in pre-clinical medical students.

CancerGuides® Training Program Research

I. 90% of participants in CancerGuides® training program participants reported making positive changes in their clinical practice 6 months following the training

Staples, J.K, Wilson, A.T. Pierce, B., Gordon, J.S. Effectiveness of CancerGuides®: A Study of an Integrative Cancer  Care Training Program for Health Professionals. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2007, 6(1): 14-24.

In a study of the participants of the Center’s CancerGuides ® training in 2004, 90% of the participants reported that they had made positive changes in their clinical practices six months following the training. The most commonly reported changes were increased confidence, providing additional programs/services, increased referrals, improved listening and patient interaction, improved skills, and more open discussions with patients.

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While there was a high level of professional use of most modalities prior to the training, six months following the training, there were significant increases in the use of relaxation, meditation, imagery, and music. 35% of those responding at a six month follow-up reported an increase in acceptance of integrative cancer therapies at their institutions and 77% reported making positive changes in their own self-care. These results indicate that CancerGuides® provided training which allowed participants to enhance personal self-care, to interact more effectively with their patients, and to develop programs of integrative cancer care.
Additional research in progress and program evaluations can be accessed in the menu at the right.

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