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The SKIP study: Sudarshan Kriya yoga in posttraumatic stress injury (SKIP), an RCT for public safety personnel

Keywords: PTSD, PTSI, Trauma

Title of research

The SKIP study: Sudarshan Kriya yoga in posttraumatic stress injury (SKIP), an RCT for public safety personnel

Summary

Public safety personnel (PSP) put themselves in harm’s way every day. PSP can see as many as 600 traumatic incidents in their lifetime. This exposure to trauma is why posttraumatic stress injury (PTSI) is higher in PSP. Even with reports of high numbers, it is believed that PTSI may be under-diagnosed and under-treated due to stigma and lack of awareness.

Current treatments for PTSI include medications and talk therapy. While these therapies, alone or in combination, show meaningful improvement for PTSI, they can be costly and time-intensive. These drawbacks mean that there is an urgent need for alternative forms of therapy that are reasonably cheap and easily deliverable in the community.

The goal of the current study is to examine the efficacy and safety of a community-based program of alternative treatments. These treatments include Sudarshan Kriya yoga (SKY) and the Health Enhancement Program (HEP). SKY is a sequential breathing-based yoga, which is part of a mind-body resilience-building program. SKY has been shown to improve PTSD in clinical research samples. The HEP is a structured group program designed to provide information to lead to a healthy life. It includes education on a healthy diet, exercise, and relaxation through music.

PSP with PTSI will receive one of these treatments (SKY or HEP), and the research team will determine if there is a reduction in their PTSI symptoms. In addition, the team will evaluate if SKY/HEP helped improve depression, anxiety, and quality of life. The team will also be looking at physical markers of health, such as blood inflammatory markers and heart rate variability.

Information will be collected from 70 participants at baseline, a week after completion of the program, and three months post-completion.

If the study results are overall positive, SKY and HEP could be used as new treatment options for the management of PTSI in PSP. Both of the interventions are easy to implement and can be offered by trained team members across the country. They can also be practiced at home by PSP once they have learned the skills, which means the programs might provide lifelong benefits for participants.

When to expect results

The research team hopes to have the results analyzed and shareable by the Fall of 2020. To learn more about this research project and the team’s other studies, please visit: http://publish.uwo.ca/~avasude2/Ongoing_studies/ptsd.html

Research team

Dr. Akshya Vasudev, Associate Professor of psychiatry at Western University; Dr. Kamini Vasudev, Associate Professor of psychiatry at Western University; Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, Scientist and Assistant Director at the Lawson Health Research Institute; Dr. Don J. Richardson, Consulting Psychiatrist and Physician Lead at Parkwood Operational Stress Injury Clinic; Dr. Mark Speechley, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University.

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