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Best Strategy for Easing Child Post-Traumatic Stress Unclear

Little insight into how interventions might influence healthy long-term development

MONDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- For children exposed to non-relational trauma, such as accidents, war, or natural disasters, psychotherapeutic interventions may be beneficial, but there is a lack of evidence establishing the long-term effectiveness of interventions, according to research published online Feb. 11 in Pediatrics.

Valerie L. Forman-Hoffman, Ph.D., M.P.H., from RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and colleagues reviewed the literature to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions targeting traumatic stress in children exposed to non-relational traumatic events. Twenty-one trials and one cohort study with low-to-medium risk of bias were identified and included in the analysis.

The researchers found that no pharmacotherapy interventions demonstrated efficacy in the short term, and only a few psychotherapeutic interventions showed benefit (all incorporating aspects of cognitive behavioral therapy). The studies offered little insight into how interventions might influence long-term development.

"Psychotherapeutic intervention may provide benefit relative to no treatment in children with traumatic stress symptoms or exposed to traumatic events and appears not to have associated harms," the authors write. "In addition, definitive guidance requires far more research on the comparative effectiveness of psychotherapeutic or pharmacological interventions targeting children exposed to non-relational or single-incident traumatic events, with or without symptoms."

Abstract (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/02/05/peds.2012-3846.abstract )Full Text (subscription or payment may be required) (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/02/05/peds.2012-3846.full.pdf+html )Editorial (subscription or payment may be required) (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/02/05/peds.2012-4020.full.pdf+html )