Research Review: Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child posttraumatic stress disorder in the year following trauma – a meta-analytic study

Hiller, Rachel M, Meiser-Stedman, Richard, Fearon, Pasco, Lobo, Sarah, McKinnon, Anna, Fraser, Abigail and Halligan, Sarah L (2016) Research Review: Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child posttraumatic stress disorder in the year following trauma – a meta-analytic study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57 (8). 884–898. ISSN 0021-9630

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Objective: Understanding the natural course of child and adolescent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has significant implications for the identification of, and intervention for, at-risk youth. We used a meta-analytic approach to examine longitudinal changes in youth PTSD prevalence and symptoms over the first 12 months posttrauma. Methods: We conducted a systematic review to identify longitudinal studies of PTSD in young people (5–18 years old), excluding treatment trials. The search yielded 27 peer-reviewed studies and one unpublished dataset for analysis of pooled prevalence estimates, relative prevalence reduction and standardised mean symptom change. Key moderators were also explored, including age, proportion of boys in the sample, initial prevalence of PTSD and PTSD measurement type. Results: Analyses demonstrated moderate declines in PTSD prevalence and symptom severity over the first 3–6 months posttrauma. From 1 to 6 months posttrauma, the prevalence of PTSD reduced by approximately 50%. Symptoms also showed moderate decline, particularly across the first 3 months posttrauma. There was little evidence of further change in prevalence or symptom severity after 6 months, suggesting that it is unlikely a child would lose a PTSD diagnosis without intervention beyond this point. Conclusions: The current findings provide key information about the likelihood of posttrauma recovery in the absence of intervention and have important implications for our understanding of child and adolescent PTSD. Results are discussed with reference to the timing of PTSD screening and the potential role of early interventions. Findings particularly highlight the importance of future research to develop our understanding of what factors prevent the action of normal recovery from the ‘acute’ posttrauma period.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Uncontrolled Keywords: child,adolescent,trauma,posttraumatic stress,meta-analysis,longitudinal
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
Depositing User: Pure Connector
Date Deposited: 18 Apr 2016 14:01
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2020 23:44
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12566

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