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J Trauma Stress. 2019 Apr;32(2):299-309. doi: 10.1002/jts.22397. Epub 2019 Mar 31.

Compassion Meditation for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Veterans: A Randomized Proof of Concept Study.

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VA San Diego Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health, San Diego, California, USA.
Department of Psychiatry, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.
Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA.
VA San Diego Healthcare System, San Diego, California, USA.
Veterans Medical Research Foundation, San Diego, California, USA.
Department of Religion, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.


in English, Chinese, Spanish

There is considerable interest in developing complementary and integrative approaches for ameliorating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Compassion meditation (CM) and loving-kindness meditation appear to offer benefits to individuals with PTSD, including symptom reduction. The present study was a pilot randomized controlled trial of CM for PTSD in veterans. The CM condition, an adaptation of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT®), consists of exercises to stabilize attention, develop present-moment awareness, and foster compassion. We compared CM to Veteran.calm (VC), which consists of psychoeducation about PTSD, rationale for relaxation, relaxation training, and sleep hygiene. Both conditions consist of 10 weekly 90-min group sessions with between-session practice assignments. A total of 28 veterans attended at least one session of the group intervention and completed pre- and posttreatment measures of PTSD severity and secondary outcomes as well as weekly measures of PTSD, depressive symptoms, and positive and negative emotions. Measures of treatment credibility, attendance, practice compliance, and satisfaction were administered to assess feasibility. A repeated measures analysis of variance revealed a more substantive reduction in PTSD symptoms in the CM condition than in the VC condition, between-group d = -0.85. Credibility, attendance, and satisfaction were similar across CM and VC conditions thus demonstrating the feasibility of CM and the appropriateness of VC as a comparison condition. The findings of this initial randomized pilot study provide rationale for future studies examining the efficacy and effectiveness of CM for veterans with PTSD.


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