Psychosocial support for war-traumatized child and adolescent refugees: evaluation of a short-term treatment program.Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2005 Jan-Feb; 39(1-2):81-7.AN
The purpose of this study was to evaluate a newly designed psychosocial treatment program for war traumatized child and adolescent refugees. The program was designed to reduce emotional distress and improve psychosocial functioning.
Ten young Kosovan refugees (mean age 13.3 years) residing in Germany participated in the manual based intervention program. This multimodal program consists of individual, family and group sessions using a psychoeducational approach beside trauma and grief focusing activities, creative techniques and relaxation. Kind and severity of traumatic experiences were gathered by interviewing the child and their caretakers using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire (HTQ). Psychiatric diagnoses (Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, K-SADS) were assessed prior to the intervention. Post-traumatic symptomatology (HTQ), emotional problems (Diagnostic System for Psychological Disorders, DYSIPS) and the overall psychosocial functioning (Child Global Assessment Scale, CGAS) were assessed before and after the 12-week intervention.
Following the intervention the degree of overall psychosocial functioning increased substantially in 9 of 10 participants. Furthermore, post-traumatic, anxiety and depressive symptoms were reduced significantly. The rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnoses fell from 60% to 30%. The number of patients with PTSD and a high rate of comorbid symptoms (depression and anxiety) as well as a history of severe traumatization remained at 30%.
This study suggests that the psychosocial treatment program specified for war traumatized adolescents may be useful for the relief of psychiatric sequelae and for an improvement in overall psychosocial functions, but not for the subgroup of severely traumatized patients with complex psychiatric disturbances.