In looking for quick and effective treatment for PTS for returning service members, Scripps Hospital Center for Integrative Medicine, in conjunction with Camp Pendleton and the Samueli Institute, 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) with returning combat-exposed active duty Marines with significant symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

Active duty military (n = 123) were randomized to 6 sessions (within 3 weeks) of either Healing Touch plus Guided Imagery (Healing Trauma by Belleruth Naparstek) or Treatment as Usual.  Outcomes measured were PTSD symptoms (the PCL – i.e., the PTSD Check List) and depression (Beck Depression Inventory), quality of life (SF-36), and hostility (Cook–Medley Hostility Inventory).

Repeated measures analysis of covariance with intent-to-treat analyses revealed a 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 reduction in cynicism (p = 0.001, Cohen's d = 0.49) vs. TAU.

The investigators conclude that the Healing Touch plus Guided Imagery intervention resulted in a clinically significant reduction in PTSD and related symptoms in a returning, combat-exposed active duty military population.

Further investigation of these and like approaches is warranted for mitigating PTSD in military populations .

Citation:  Jain, Shamini; McMahon, George F.; Hasen, Patricia; Kozub, Madelyn P.; Porter, Valencia; King, Rauni; Guarneri, Erminia M. Healing Touch With Guided Imagery for PTSD in Returning Active Duty Military: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Military Medicine, Volume 177, Number 9, September 2012, pp. 1015-1021 (7)