Samueli Institute Study Identifies High Impact Training Programs to Help Service Members Cope with Stress

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The study identified stress management skills trainings that build resilience, ease emotional stress and reset the body’s control system that reacts to stress.

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A recent study from research non-profit Samueli Institute evaluated the potential impact of stress-reduction programs and assessed the feasibility of implementing those programs within a military environment. The study, published this month in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, identified stress management skills trainings that build resilience, ease emotional stress and reset the body’s control system that reacts to stress.

Samueli Institute’s large systematic review analyzed 116 randomized control trials distilled from a pool of nearly 12,000 studies. Each study in the review pertained to a treatment program including two or more integrative modalities that addressed a range of physical and mental reactions to overwhelming stress—including post-traumatic stress response, depression and anxiety.

“The self-management skills these programs teach may be especially helpful to those that are likely to refuse, delay, or feel stigmatized by conventional therapies,” said Samueli Institute Research Manager Cindy Crawford, the lead author. “Samueli Institute’s study identified promising programs that have a strong evidence base, contained very few to no adverse effects, and required minimal cost and training time.”

Several training programs were recommended as feasible to incorporate into the training of troops and their families because of their high impact and minimal time and resources required. The treatment programs found to have a strong evidence- base and statistically significant evidence were mindfulness-based stress reduction, cognitive behavioral stress management, autogenic training, relaxation response training, and other mind-body skills.

“It is time to focus our efforts on improved prevention and management of post-traumatic stress,” said Wayne B. Jonas, MD, President and CEO of Samueli Institute and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. “Self-care programs in meditation, stress management and relaxation response training empower troops and their families by adding another tool to their home recovery battle kit.”

Systematic reviews are the highest standard of research because they synthesize the comprehensive body of research to determine the best available evidence for the effectiveness of a practice or treatment. Of the studies free from bias and of high quality, very few reported negative results.

Samueli Institute has worked collaboratively with the U.S. military for more than a decade to apply rigorous science and evaluate the impact of complementary and integrative medicine on the symptoms related to post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

The study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine entitled “A Systematic Review of Biopsychosocial Training Programs for the Self-Management of Emotional Stress: Potential Applications for the Military” was authored by Cindy Crawford, Dawn B. Wallerstedt, Raheleh Khorsan, Shawn S, Clausen, Wayne B. Jonas, and Joan A. G. Walter. The project was funded by the US Army Medical Research Award no. W8IXWH-08-1-0408. The views, opinions, and/or findings should not be construed as an official department of the Army position, policy, or decision unless so designated by other documentation.

About Samueli Institute
Samueli Institute is a non-profit research organization supporting the scientific investigation of healing processes and their role in medicine and health care. Founded in 2001, the Institute is advancing the science of healing worldwide. Samueli Institute’s research domains include integrative medicine, optimal healing environments, the role of the mind in healing, behavioral medicine, health care policy, and military and veterans’ health care. Our mission is to create a flourishing society through the scientific exploration of wellness and whole-person healing. More information is available at

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Doug Cavarocchi
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