Abstract: Effects of Meditation Practice on Mental Health Outcomes of Female Trauma Survivors with Concurrent Alcohol Use Disorders: A Small Randomized Controlled Trial (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

12706 Effects of Meditation Practice on Mental Health Outcomes of Female Trauma Survivors with Concurrent Alcohol Use Disorders: A Small Randomized Controlled Trial

Friday, January 15, 2010: 9:00 AM
Marina (Hyatt Regency)
* noted as presenting author
Mo Yee Lee, PhD , Ohio State University, Professor, Columbus, OH
Amy Zaharlick, PhD , Ohio State University, Associate Professor, Columbus, OH
Deborah Akers, PhD , Miami University of Ohio, Assistant Professor, Powell, OH
Background and Purpose: A history of abuse drastically increases the likelihood that women will abuse alcohol as women may use alcohol to cope with their negative emotions as a result of the oppressive situations. Clinical challenges for treating alcohol use disorders in the context of traumas include (1) how to enhance clients' ability to stay physiologically calm so they can engage beneficially in treatment to process and integrate their trauma experiences so they no longer depend on alcohol for PTSD symptom management; (2) how to manage the extensive overlapping of PTSD symptoms and alcohol withdrawal syndromes, which inadvertently initiates a cycle that perpetuates continued alcohol use and relapse among clients; and (3) how to enhance clients' ability to attend to current experiences and to differentiate them from trauma- or addiction-influenced emotional and behavioral responses so they can make choices responsive and beneficial to their current needs. Meditation practice (1) brings about “the relaxation response,” (2) intervenes at the meta-cognitive level to help enhance awareness and self-regulating abilities, and (3) reduces negative thoughts associated and enhances positive thoughts. These mechanisms suggest that meditation practice should have a positive impact in addressing clinical challenges when treating this client population.

Methods: This was a small-randomized controlled trial with a longitudinal design that examined the impact of meditation practice on a sample of 35 female trauma survivors of interpersonal abuses who had concurrent alcohol use diagnoses. Participating clients were randomly assigned to the intervention group (17) and the control group (15). Treatment conditions consisted of a six-week meditation curriculum devoted to Breathing-, Lovingkindness-, and Compassion Meditation. Data were collected at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and 6-month follow-up. The study hypothesized that meditation would lead to a decrease in PTSD symptoms (Modified PTSD Symptom Scale, MPSS), increase in positive emotions (The Intensity and Time Affect Survey, ITAS), and increase in emotional regulation abilities (Structured Interview for Disorders of Extreme Distress, SIDES).

Results: Findings of repeated measures of ANOVA based on data of the three waves showed significant Time × Group interaction effects in MPSS Total Score [F (1, 18) =7.89, p = .012], MPSS Avoidance Subscale [F (1, 18) =6.75, p = .018], and MPSS Hyperarousal Subscale [F (1, 18) =6.09, p = .024]; ITAS Positive Emotion Score [F (1, 19) =15.83, p = .001], Joy Subscale [F (1, 19) =13.74, p = .001]; Love Subscale [F (1, 19) =13.83, p = .001]; and SIDES Disorders of affect regulation Subscale [F (1,15) =8.27, p = .012]. Positive changes in the intervention group from pre-treatment to post-treatment to 6-month follow-up were significantly greater than the changes observed in the control group in a positive direction.

Conclusions: While the intervention will need to be tested in a large-scale effectiveness study, meditation practice has the potential to provide a strengths-based and empowering method of treatment that allows clients to unfold their internal and personal resources in their recovery process. In terms of service provision, meditation provides a low-cost, non-intrusive, sustainable, and accessible intervention for helping clients in their recovery process.