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Original Research

Randomized Clinical Trial of Brief Primary Care–Based Mindfulness Training Versus a Psychoeducational Group for Veterans With Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Kyle Possemato, PhDa,b,*; Dessa Bergen-Cico, PhDb; Katherine Buckheit, PhDa; Abigail Ramon, PhDa; Shannon McKenzie, BAa; Allyson R. Smith, BAa; Michael Wadea; Gregory P. Beehler, PhDb,c; and Wilfred R. Pigeon, PhDd

Published: December 28, 2022

ABSTRACT

Objective: Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms are often reluctant to engage in traditional mental health care but do seek primary care services. Alternative strategies are needed to develop emotional regulation skills among individuals with PTSD symptoms. This study examined the feasibility and effectiveness of Primary Care Brief Mindfulness Training (PCBMT) compared to a psychoeducational group for reducing PTSD symptoms.

Methods: Primary care patients (n = 55) with DSM-5 PTSD symptoms but not engaged in PTSD psychotherapies were randomized to 4-week PCBMT or a PTSD psychoeducation group (EDU). Both groups were cofacilitated by mental health providers and veteran peer specialists. Between January 2019 and March 2020, assessments were completed at baseline, post-treatment, and 16- and 24-week follow-up.

Results: PCBMT participants had significantly larger decreases in PTSD symptoms from pre- to post-treatment (d = 0.57) and depression from pre-treatment to 16- and 24-week follow-ups (d = 0.67, 0.60) compared to EDU. PCBMT participants also reported significantly greater improvements in health responsibility (d = 0.79), stress management (d = 0.99), and not feeling dominated by symptoms (d = 0.71). Both interventions resulted in the majority of participants “stepping up” to a higher level of PTSD care.

Conclusions: Brief mindfulness training is effective for reducing psychiatric symptoms and improving broader recovery outcomes and health promoting behaviors. For individuals who are not yet willing to engage in trauma-focused PTSD treatment, PCBMT may be preferable and more effective than psychoeducational classes as preliminary treatments. Further research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of PCBMT in a larger sample and investigate factors that will support wider implementation in primary care settings.

Clinical Trials Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT03352011

Volume: 84

Quick Links: PTSD , Veteran

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