Trauma-affected refugees treated with basic body awareness therapy or mixed physical activity as augmentation to treatment as usual -A pragmatic randomised controlled trial

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Background The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is estimated to be as high as 30% among refugees. The coexistence of prevalent chronic pain is believed to maintain symptoms of PTSD and add complexity to the condition. Despite this, little evidence exists on how to treat PTSD and comorbid conditions best in trauma-affected refugees. Aim The aim of the present study was to investigate if adding either BBAT or mixed physical activity to the treatment as usual (TAU) for trauma-affected refugees with PTSD would increase the treatment effect compared to TAU alone. Method Randomised controlled trial, 3-armed parallel group superiority study, conducted at Competence Centre for Transcultural Psychiatry, Denmark. Participants were adult traumaaffected refugees with PTSD. Allocation ratio was 1:1:1, stratified for PTSD severity and gender. An open-label design was applied due to the nature of the intervention. Participants were randomised to receive either individual basic body awareness therapy (group B) or individual mixed physical activity (group M) one hour/week for 20 weeks plus TAU, or TAU only (group C). The primary outcome was PTSD severity measured by Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ). Trial registration:, NCT01955538. Results Of the 338 patients included (C/B/M = 110/114/114), 318 patients were eligible for intentionto- treat analysis (C/B/M = 104/105/109). On the primary outcome, intention-to-treat as well as per-protocol analyses showed small but significant improvement on scores from pre- to post-treatment in all three groups but with no significant difference in improvement between groups. Conclusions The findings do not provide evidence that either BBAT or mixed physical activity as add-on treatment bring significantly larger improvement on symptoms of PTSD compared to TAU alone for adult, trauma-affected refugees. There is a need for studies on potential subpopulations of trauma-affected refugees who could benefit from physical activity as a part of their treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0230300
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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