Early Cognitive Therapy Treatment Effective for Children and Adolescents with PTSD

A study into Post Traumatic Stress in children and adolescents has shown that Cognitive Therapy can be an effective treatment for 8-17 year-olds. The research, led by Richard Meiser-Stedman at the University of East Anglia, showed 71 per cent of those treated with Cognitive Therapy in the 2-6 month period after a trauma showed improvement, compared with those placed on a waiting list for the same period.

Early Cognitive Therapy Treatment Effective for Children and Adolescents with PTSD

Twenty-nine 8–17 years-olds with diagnosed PTSD after a single-event trauma in the previous 2–6 months were randomly allocated to Cognitive Therapy for PTSD or waiting list for 10 weeks. 71 per cent of the participants were free of PTSD after Cognitive Therapy, significantly more than those who were on the waiting list (27 per cent).

The research was undertaken as few effective early treatments for PTSD in children and adolescents currently exist. Dr Meiser-Stedman said: “This early (2-6 month post-trauma) treatment window is important as is not known whether treatment in this period would have any advantage over natural recovery, which can occur up to six-months later, and establishing that any active intervention is superior to ‘watchful waiting’ is essential for the future refinement of early treatment approaches.”

Cognitive therapy saw greater improvement, as measured by child and parent-reported questionnaires of PTSD, depression and anxiety as well as clinician-rated functioning. Recovery after Cognitive Therapy for PTSD was also maintained at 6- and 12-month post treatment.

Dr Meiser-Stedman said: “This trial provides new preliminary support for the efficacy and acceptability of Cognitive Therapy as an early treatment for PTSD in youth. Importantly, the results of this trial did not support the extension of ‘watchful waiting’ into the 2- to 6-month post-trauma window, as significant improvements in the waiting list group, particularly in terms of functioning and depression, were not observed. There is a need for much more research into treatments in this period, and the next step would be replication in larger samples.”

The study ‘Cognitive therapy as an early treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents: a randomized controlled trial addressing preliminary efficacy and mechanisms of action’ is published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry can be read in full here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcpp.12673/full


Source: University of East Anglia