Context: Preliminary studies of body therapy for women in trauma recovery suggest positive results but are not specific to women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain.
Objective and participants: To examine the feasibility and acceptability of body-oriented therapy for female veterans with PTSD and chronic pain taking prescription analgesics.
Design and setting: A 2-group, randomized, repeated-measures design was employed. Female veterans (N=14) were recruited from a Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system in the Northwest United States (VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, Washington). Participants were assigned to either treatment as usual (TAU) or treatment as usual and 8 weekly individual body-oriented therapy sessions (mindful awareness in body-oriented therapy group).
Measures: Written questionnaires and interviews were used to assess intervention acceptability; reliable and valid measures were administered at 3 time points to evaluate measurement acceptability and performance; and within-treatment process measures and a participant post-intervention questionnaire assessed treatment fidelity.
Intervention: A body-oriented therapy protocol, "Mindful Awareness in Body-oriented Therapy" (MABT) was used. This is a mind-body approach that incorporates massage, mindfulness, and the emotional processing of psychotherapy.
Results: Over 10 weeks of recruitment, 31 women expressed interest in study participation. The primary reason for exclusion was the lack of prescription analgesic use for chronic pain. Study participants adhered to study procedures, and 100% attended at least 7 of 8 sessions; all completed in-person post-treatment assessment. Written questionnaires about intervention experience suggest increased tools for pain relief/relaxation, increased body/mind connection, and increased trust/safety. Ten of 14 responded to mailed 3-month follow-up. The response-to-process measures indicated the feasibility of implementing the manualized protocol and point to the need for longer sessions and a longer intervention period with this population.