Monday, February 11, 2013

How to treat traumatized kids? Research not clear

USA Today   Although most children exposed to traumatic events such as natural disasters or school shootings never suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms, there is insufficient hard evidence on the best interventions to help kids who do suffer from these exposures, a new government-sponsored review concludes.

In the analysis of 6,647 research abstracts on psychological and pharmacological therapies, only a few psychological treatments were shown to help kids 17 and under in the short term, and no medications were shown to have benefit.

Just 21 trials and one study reported in 25 abstracts met the reviewers' standards for quality and strength of evidence, says Adam Zolotor, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a co-author of the study, published Monday in Pediatrics. [...]

This study is not about the debriefing programs that counselors and mental-health professionals often conduct soon after a shooting or other critical incident; rather, it addresses "therapies for kids who are having (chronic) traumatic stress," notes Denise Dowd, a pediatric emergency physician and director of research in the Division of Emergency and Urgent Care at Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

Although the majority of kids exposed to traumatic events rebound with the support of loving and caring family relationships, only a few kids start to have problems and develop signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, says Dowd, author of an accompanying commentary in Pediatrics.

A 2007 longitudinal study of 1,420 children ages 9-16, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that potentially traumatic events are common in children but do not typically result in post-traumatic stress symptoms or disorder.

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