Non-pharmacological and Non-psychological Approaches to the Treatment of PTSD: Results of a Systematic Review and Meta-analyses

European Journal of Psychotraumatology

Jonathan I. Bisson, Marieke van Gelderen, Neil P. Roberts & Catrin Lewis


Background: Non-pharmacological and non-psychological approaches to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have often been excluded from systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Consequently, we know little regarding their efficacy.

Objective: To determine the effect sizes of non-pharmacological and non-psychological treatment approaches for PTSD.

Method: We undertook a systematic review following Cochrane Collaboration guidelines. A pre-determined definition of clinical importance was applied to the results and the quality of evidence was appraised using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations (GRADE) approach.

Results: 30 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of a range of heterogeneous non-psychological and non-pharmacological interventions (28 in adults, two in children and adolescents) were included. There was emerging evidence for six different approaches (acupuncture, neurofeedback, saikokeishikankyoto (a herbal preparation), somatic experiencing, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and yoga).

Conclusions: Given the level of evidence available, it would be premature to offer non-pharmacological and non-psychological interventions routinely, but those with evidence of efficacy provide alternatives for people who do not respond to, do not tolerate or do not want more conventional evidence-based interventions. This review should stimulate further research in this area.

Keywords: Non-pharmacological; Non-psychological; Systematic review; PTSD Treatment

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