Psychological and psychosocial treatments for children and young people with post-traumatic stress disorder: a network meta-analysis

Ifigeneia Mavranezouli, Odette Megnin-Viggars, Caitlin Daly, Sofia Dias, Sarah Stockton, Richard Meiser-Stedman, David Trickey, Stephen Pilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
52 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a potentially chronic and disabling disorder that affects a significant minority of youth exposed to trauma. Previous studies have concluded that trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (TF-CBT) is an effective treatment for PTSD in youth, but the relative strengths of different psychological therapies are poorly understood.

Methods: We undertook a systematic review and network meta-analyses of psychological and psychosocial interventions for children and young people with PTSD. Outcomes included PTSD symptom change scores post-treatment and at 1-4-month follow-up, and remission post-treatment.

Results: We included 32 trials of 17 interventions and 2,260 participants. Overall, the evidence was of moderate-to-low quality. No inconsistency was detected between direct and indirect evidence. Individual forms of TF-CBT showed consistently large effects in reducing PTSD symptoms post-treatment compared with waitlist. The order of interventions by descending magnitude of effect versus waitlist was: cognitive therapy for PTSD (SMD -2.94, 95%CrI -3.94 to -1.95), combined somatic/cognitive therapies, child-parent psychotherapy, combined TF-CBT/parent training, meditation, narrative exposure, exposure/prolonged exposure, play therapy, Cohen TF-CBT/cognitive processing therapy (CPT), eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR), parent training, group TF-CBT, supportive counselling, and family therapy (SMD -0.37, 95%CrI -1.60 to 0.84). Results for parent training, supportive counselling and family therapy were inconclusive. Cohen TF-CBT/CPT, group TF-CBT and supportive counselling had the largest evidence base. Results regarding changes in PTSD symptoms at follow-up and remission post-treatment were uncertain due to limited evidence.

Conclusions: TF-CBT, in particular individual forms, appears to be most effective in the management of PTSD in youth. EMDR is effective but to a lesser extent. Supportive counselling does not appear to be effective. Results suggest a large positive effect for emotional freedom technique, child-parent psychotherapy, combined TF-CBT/parent training, and meditation, but further research is needed to confirm these findings as they were based on very limited evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Early online date17 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Jul 2019

Keywords

  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • network meta-analysis
  • intervention

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