Dr. Jennifer Strauss, Department of Veterans Affairs

Report
STATE OF THE EVIDENCE FOR USE OF COMPLEMENTARY AND
ALTERNATIVE TREATMENTS (CAM) FOR VETERANS WITH
POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)
PRESENTATION AT THE AMERICAN LEGION’S TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY AND
POSTTRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER SYMPOSIUM
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFAIRS, MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
JENNIFER L STRAUSS, PHD
June 24, 2014
Overview
This brief presentation will:
• Review definition of terms (e.g., what is CAM?)
• Summarize findings from recent VA reviews of studies that have evaluated
applications of CAM for PTSD
• Summarize conclusions and recommendations derived from those reviews
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Recent Reviews of the Evidence for Use of CAM for PTSD
• Systematic evidence review:
– Strauss, JL et al. (2011). Efficacy of Complementary and Alternative Medicine Therapies
for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center,
VA-ESP Project #09-010.
– http://www.hsrd.research.va.gov/publications/esp/cam-ptsd.cfm
• Review article:
– Strauss, JL & Lang, AJ (2012) Complementary and Alternative Treatments for PTSD, PTSD
Research Quarterly, 23 (2), National Center for PTSD.
– Distributed electronically to 17,000
– Since April 2013, ~8 views/week; downloaded ~ 500 times
– http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/newsletters/research-quarterly/v23n2.pdf
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Recent Summaries of the Evidence for Use of CAM for
PTSD
• Provider fact sheet:
– Strauss, JL, Lang, AJ, & Schnurr, PP (2014) Complementary and Alternative Medicine
(CAM) for PTSD, National Center for PTSD.
– Since May 20th, ~20 views/week; average time on page >8 minutes
– http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/overview/complementary_alternative_
for_ptsd.asp
• Consumer fact sheet:
– Under development: will be available on the VA National Center for PTSD website
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What is CAM?
• Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) includes a range of
therapies not considered standard to Western (US) medicine.
• Complementary: use of these techniques in combination with
conventional approaches
• Alternative: use of these techniques in lieu of conventional approaches
• Many treatments considered to be CAM in the US are considered
conventional approaches in other parts of the world (e.g., acupuncture)
• Line between CAM and conventional changes over time
– Example: relaxation training (including CAM techniques) is a standard component of
many conventional PTSD therapies
– Example: biofeedback commonly used to treat pain management skills
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What is CAM?
• CAM is an umbrella term that describes a wide range of modalities
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Acupuncture/acupressure
Biofeedback/neurofeedback
Deep breathing
Energy therapies
Guided imagery
Healing touch
Homeopathy/herbal remedies
Hypnosis
Light therapy
Massage
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Meditation
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Neuro-linguistic programming
Progressive relaxation
Qigong/tai chi
Reiki energy healing
Spinal manipulation
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Yoga
More…
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State of the Evidence
• Current evidence base is very limited (but growing)
• 2011 evidence review included 7 randomized controlled trials, most of
poor/fair quality:
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1 acupuncture (1 good quality)
3 relaxation (3 poor quality)
2 meditation (1 fair, 1 poor quality)
1 massage (1 poor quality)
• Insufficient evidence to draw strong conclusions about the efficacy
• Insufficient evidence to describe other important components of
treatment decision-making: safety, cost effectiveness, dosing, indications
and contraindications, mechanisms of action, etc.
• Retention rates, when reported, similar to evidence-based approaches
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State of the Evidence
• Highest quality evidence exists for acupuncture
• Acupuncture > wait list control
• Acupuncture ≐ active treatment (group CBT vs individual CBT?)
• Strong conclusions cannot be reliably drawn on the basis of a single RCT (further study
needed)
• Greatest breadth of evidence exists for relaxation
• Findings mixed: some studies show modest effect, others show no effect relative to
active comparators
• Most studies small with significant design flaws that limit interpretability
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State of the Evidence
• Evidence in support of meditation as adjunctive treatment generally
positive
• Meditation > control (usual care)
• Usual care + meditation > usual care alone
• Meditation vs. active treatment ?
• Different types of meditation with different hypothesized mechanisms of action (further
study needed)
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Summary and Conclusions
• The umbrella of CAM approaches includes a broad range of approaches,
not all of which may hold the same level of promise for PTSD
• Preliminary findings are mixed, but suggest that CAM therapies merit
consideration and further research
• Current evidence does not support the use of CAM interventions as
alternatives to current empirically-supported PTSD approaches or as 1st
line approaches
• Current evidence points to possible use of CAM interventions as
adjunctive interventions
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