A systematic review of randomized trials of mind-body interventions for PTSD

J Clin Psychol. 2018 Sep;74(9):1485-1508. doi: 10.1002/jclp.22634. Epub 2018 May 10.


Objective: To systematically review outcomes from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mind-body treatments for PTSD.

Methods: Inclusion criteria based on guidelines for assessing risk of bias were used to evaluate articles identified through electronic literature searches.

Results: Twenty-two RCTs met inclusion standards. In most of the nine mindfulness and six yoga studies, significant between-group effects were found indicating moderate to large effect size advantages for these treatments. In all seven relaxation RCT's, relaxation was used as a control condition and five studies reported significant between-group differences on relevant PTSD outcomes in favor of the target treatments. However, there were large within-group symptom improvements in the relaxation condition for the majority of studies.

Conclusions: Although many studies are limited by methodologic weaknesses, recent studies have increased rigor and, in aggregate, the results for mindfulness, yoga, and relaxation are promising. Recommendations for design of future mind-body trials are offered.

Keywords: PTSD; mind-body; randomized controlled trial; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Yoga