Yoga for warriors: An intervention for veterans with comorbid chronic pain and PTSD

Author: Suzzette M Chopin1, Christina M Sheerin2, Brian L Meyer1
1 Mental Health Service.
2 Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics.
Conference/Journal: Psychol Trauma
Date published: 2020 Nov 1
Other: Volume ID: 12 , Issue ID: 8 , Pages: 888-896 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1037/tra0000649. , Word Count: 264

Comorbid chronic pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common in veterans; this comorbidity is associated with increased severity and poorer prognosis when compared to each outcome alone. Yoga has been shown to be effective for chronic pain and promising for PTSD, but yoga for comorbid pain and PTSD has not been examined. This article offers empirical support for a yoga intervention for comorbid chronic pain and PTSD in a veteran population.

Results are presented from a 4-year pilot yoga intervention for comorbid chronic pain and PTSD at a large, urban Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Based on the fear avoidance model of pain, the intervention used a cross-sectional, open-trial design with pre- and postmeasures. T test analyses were conducted on program completers (N = 49; out of 87 initially enrolled, 44% attrition rate), who were primarily African American (69%) and male (61%) and had a mean age of 51.41 years (SD = 11.32).

Results indicated trend-level reductions in overall PTSD symptoms, as measured by the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (p = .02, d = 0.38) and in symptom cluster scores of negative alterations of cognitions and mood (p = .03, d = 0.36) and arousal and reactivity (p = .03, d = 0.35). Veterans reported significant improvement in ability to participate in social activities (p < .001, d = 0.44) and significant reductions in kinesiophobia (fear of movement or physical activity; p < .001, d = 0.85). On a satisfaction measure with a range of 1 (quite dissatisfied) to 4 (extremely satisfied), the mean rating was 3.74 (SD = 0.33).

Yoga is a feasible and effective intervention for veterans with comorbid chronic pain and PTSD. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

PMID: 32700935 PMCID: PMC7909482 (available on 2021-11-01) DOI: 10.1037/tra0000649