A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Creative Arts Therapies in the Treatment of Adults With PTSD

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Abstract

Objective: There is a growing body of literature supporting the use of creative arts therapies; however, the efficacy of creative arts therapies in the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has not been systematically evaluated. The aim of this systematic review was to examine the efficacy of creative arts therapy including music therapy, art therapy, dance/movement therapy, and drama therapy, in the treatment of PTSD. Method: Ten databases were searched for peer-reviewed literature published from inception to December 2016. Studies were included in the review if they used a randomized controlled trial (RCT), a pseudo RCT, or a controlled study design; tested the efficacy of one of the creative arts therapies described above; and reported changes to PTSD diagnosis or symptomatology. Results: From an initial yield of 1,918 records, 1,653 records were screened on title and abstract and 125 were screened at full-text. Seven studies met the inclusion criteria for review, with four studies investigating art therapy, two studies investigating music therapy, and a final study investigating drama therapy. Individual studies were initially rated on a standardized quality and bias checklist, and then GRADE was used to rate the overall evidence for each intervention. The evidence for music therapy, art therapy, and drama therapy was ranked as low to very low, with no studies found for dance/movement therapy. Generally, the quality of the trials was very poor. Future directions for this field of research are to improve the scientific quality of the research trials in this area.

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