Introduction: Yoga-the integrative practice of physical postures and movement, breath exercises, and mindfulness-may serve as a useful adjunctive component of trauma-focused treatment to build skills in tolerating and modulating physiologic and affective states that have become dysregulated by trauma exposure. A previous randomized controlled study was carried out among 60 women with chronic, treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and associated mental health problems stemming from prolonged or multiple trauma exposures. After 10 sessions of yoga, participants exhibited statistically significant decreases in PTSD symptom severity and greater likelihood of loss of PTSD diagnosis, significant decreases in engagement in negative tension reduction activities (e.g., self-injury), and greater reductions in dissociative and depressive symptoms when compared with the control (a seminar in women's health). The current study is a long-term follow-up assessment of participants who completed this randomized controlled trial.
Methods: Participants from the randomized controlled trial were invited to participate in long-term follow-up assessments approximately 1.5 years after study completion to assess whether the initial intervention and/or yoga practice after treatment was associated with additional changes. Forty-nine women completed the long-term follow-up interviews. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to examine whether treatment group status in the original study and frequency of yoga practice after the study predicted greater changes in symptoms and PTSD diagnosis.
Results: Group assignment in the original randomized study was not a significant predictor of longer-term outcomes. However, frequency of continuing yoga practice significantly predicted greater decreases in PTSD symptom severity and depression symptom severity, as well as a greater likelihood of a loss of PTSD diagnosis.
Conclusions: Yoga appears to be a useful treatment modality; the greatest long-term benefits are derived from more frequent yoga practice.