Yoga as an intervention for psychological symptoms following trauma: A systematic review and quantitative synthesis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Despite evidence of the physiologic impact of trauma, treatments are only beginning to focus on the impact of trauma on the body. Yoga may be a promising treatment for trauma sequelae, given research that supports yoga for general distress. The present study aims to systematically assess and quantitatively synthesize the effectiveness of yoga interventions for psychological symptoms (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], depression, anxiety symptoms) following potentially traumatic life events. The following electronic databases were systematically searched: PsycINFO, Ovid Medline/PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and Embase/Embase Classic. Google Scholar, Mendeley, Open Research and Contributor Identification, and Fig Share were hand searched post hoc. The review focused on studies with a comparison group that measured psychological symptoms before and after intervention. After screening and reviewing, 12 articles (N = 791) were included, with interventions ranging from 2 days to 16 weeks. If a study contained multiple conditions, between-groups differences were only examined between the yoga and inactive control group. Though overall between-groups (yoga vs. comparison) effect sizes ranged from ds = 0.40-1.06, the systematic review and quantitative synthesis did not find strong evidence for the effectiveness of yoga as an intervention for PTSD, depression, and anxiety symptoms following traumatic life experiences due to low quality and high risk of bias of studies. As yoga has promise for managing psychological symptoms among trauma survivors, this review calls for more rigorous design of future studies to allow definitive conclusions regarding the use of yoga in mental health treatment of trauma survivors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-523
Number of pages11
JournalPsychological Services
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.


  • Meta-analysis
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Systematic review
  • Trauma
  • Yoga


Dive into the research topics of 'Yoga as an intervention for psychological symptoms following trauma: A systematic review and quantitative synthesis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this