Bob Woodruff Foundation Offers Guidance on Complementary and Integrative Health Practices for Veterans with PTSD

NEW YORK, Feb. 6, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — As part of its work to support the mental and physical wellness of veterans and service members, the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) has published Understanding the Role of Complementary and Integrative Health (CIH) in treating PTSD.” The latest BWF research brief addresses the benefits and limitations of CIH practices such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and clinical hypnosis when used with conventional approaches.

The report outlines the conditions in which CIH practices are most likely to be successful. These include in concert with evidence-based clinical mental health care or when used for patients with minor PTSD symptoms or those who have not improved with traditional treatment. In addition, while CIH practices such as biofeedback and relaxation techniques can be popular among veterans, especially those with PTSD, there is not strong evidence to support these practices as primary treatments.

“We know there is a need for guidance and support on this issue. Veterans with PTSD are 25 percent more likely than those without to use CIH practices. It is important that providers present CIH accurately, as an additional tool for reducing PTSD symptoms when used with evidence-based therapy,” says AnneMarie Dougherty, CEO at the Bob Woodruff Foundation.

Other key findings from the brief:

  • Who benefits and how: CIH practices can provide relaxation, decreased stress and reduced migraines, which can be challenges for people with PTSD. These practices can also help to engage veterans and service members, who are otherwise hesitant to get clinical services, in evidence-based clinical care. .
  • Caveats for veterans and care providers: Some CIH providers overpromise positive results, do not follow medical guidance, offer CIH as a primary treatment, or do notconsider which patients it would be most appropriate for. Those failings risk the health of veterans with PTSD by making such veterans less likely to seek effective clinical care.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently approved some CIH practices as part of its standard package of medical benefits for veterans. VA will cover these treatments at VA facilities or in non-VA settings when a veteran’s care team determines the treatments are clinically necessary. For primary treatment, the VA and Department of Defense’s latest guidelines recommend conventional trauma-focused psychotherapies. These include prolonged exposure, cognitive processing therapy, and eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing.

About The Bob Woodruff Foundation

The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was wounded by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, BWF has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans, including mental health, caregiver support, food insecurity, and service-connected fertility issues. To date, BWF has invested over $159 million to ensure that our nation’s veterans, service members, and their families have stable and successful futures. For more information, visit

Maicie Calvert
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SOURCE Bob Woodruff Foundation