Meta-analytic review: Group-based interventions for treating posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents

Davis, Rebecca S., Meiser-Stedman, Richard ORCID:, Afzal, Nimrah, Devaney, John, Halligan, Sarah L., Lofthouse, Katie, Smith, Patrick, Stallard, Paul, Ye, Siyan and Hiller, Rachel M. (2023) Meta-analytic review: Group-based interventions for treating posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 32 (11). pp. 1217-1232. ISSN 0890-8567

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Objective: Trauma exposure in childhood is common and can lead to a range of negative mental health outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In many settings, resources to address this distress are scarce. Group-based interventions require minimal resources and training, can be delivered by non–mental health specialists, and target larger numbers of children and adolescents. This meta-analysis sought to establish whether such an approach is an effective method for targeting PTSD symptoms and to identify potential moderators of effectiveness. Method: PubMed, PsycNET, and PTSDPubs were searched for randomized controlled trials that used a group-based PTSD intervention with children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 years. Data were extracted for PTSD symptoms and depression symptoms. A random-effects meta-analysis was conducted to obtain between-group pooled effect size estimates. This study was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42020187214). Results: The initial search identified 9,650 studies, of which 42 were eligible for inclusion (N = 5,998). Children randomized to a group-based intervention had significantly lower PTSD symptoms after treatment compared with a control group, with a medium pooled effect (g = −0.55, 95% CI [−0.76, −0.35]). Group interventions were superior when compared with either active or passive controls, at follow-up, and for depression symptoms. There was a large amount of heterogeneity, but no evidence that this was explained by whether the intervention was delivered in a low- and middle-income or high-income country, included caregivers, or was universal or targeted. Conclusion: Group PTSD interventions, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy–based interventions, are effective at targeting posttrauma distress in children and adolescents. There was evidence of effectiveness when delivered in highly complex and resource-scarce settings and to a range of trauma-exposed groups, including groups exposed to war/conflict, natural disasters, and abuse.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This study was funded by a National Institute for Health and Social Care Research (NIHR), Research for Patient Benefit programme grant awarded to RMH (NIHR200586). The funding body was not involved in producing this manuscript or the design or running of the project. The views expressed in this paper are not necessarily those of NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. Data availability: All data collected for this review will be available from the publication date. Requests to access these data should be made to the corresponding author.
Uncontrolled Keywords: ptsd,group,trauma,treatment,developmental and educational psychology,psychiatry and mental health ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/3200/3204
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Norwich Medical School
UEA Research Groups: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Groups > Mental Health
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > Research Centres > Lifespan Health
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2023 10:30
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2023 03:19
DOI: 10.1016/j.jaac.2023.02.013


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