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Acupuncture for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Trial

Hollifield, Michael MD*; Sinclair-Lian, Nityamo DOM (NM); Warner, Teddy D. PhD; Hammerschlag, Richard PhD

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2007 - Volume 195 - Issue 6 - p 504-513
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31803044f8
Original Article

The purpose of the study was to evaluate the potential efficacy and acceptability of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). People diagnosed with PTSD were randomized to either an empirically developed acupuncture treatment (ACU), a group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or a wait-list control (WLC). The primary outcome measure was self-reported PTSD symptoms at baseline, end treatment, and 3-month follow-up. Repeated measures MANOVA was used to detect predicted Group X Time effects in both intent-to-treat (ITT) and treatment completion models. Compared with the WLC condition in the ITT model, acupuncture provided large treatment effects for PTSD (F [1, 46] = 12.60; p < 0.01; Cohen’s d = 1.29), similar in magnitude to group CBT (F [1, 47] = 12.45; p < 0.01; d = 1.42) (ACU vs. CBT, d = 0.29). Symptom reductions at end treatment were maintained at 3-month follow-up for both interventions. Acupuncture may be an efficacious and acceptable nonexposure treatment option for PTSD. Larger trials with additional controls and methods are warranted to replicate and extend these findings.

*Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Geriatric Medicine, University of Louisville School of Medicine, Louisville, Kentucky; †Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque, New Mexico; and ‡The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, Oregon.

Supported by the NIH/National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) No. AT 01229.

Send reprint requests to Michael Hollifield, MD, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Med Center One, 501 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202.

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.