Background: A portable practice of repeating a mantram-a sacred word or phrase-has been shown to reduce the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veterans with military trauma. It is thought that the intervention re-directs attention and initiates relaxation to decrease symptom severity, but there may be other mechanisms that may contribute to this improvement.
Purpose: We tested the hypothesis that increases in existential spiritual wellbeing (ESWB) would mediate reductions in self-reported PTSD symptoms following a group mantram intervention.
Method: Veterans diagnosed with PTSD from war-related trauma completed 6 weeks of case management plus a group mantram intervention (n = 66) as part of a randomized trial. Measures included PTSD Checklist (PCL) and Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Wellbeing. Path analysis was conducted on those who completed treatment to assess ESWB as a possible mediator of change in PCL from baseline to post-treatment.
Results: A significant indirect effect, -2.24, 95% CI (-4.17, -1.05) of the mantram intervention on PCL change was found. The path from the mantram intervention to ESWB change was significant and positive (B = 4.89, p < 0.0001), and the path from ESWB change to PCL change was significant and negative (B = -0.46, p = 0.001), thus supporting the hypothesis.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that one contributing mechanism that partially explains how the mantram intervention reduces PTSD symptom severity in veterans may be by increasing levels of ESWB.