Treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents.
Smith P., Perrin S., Dalgleish T., Meiser-Stedman R., Clark DM., Yule W.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: We review recent evidence regarding risk factors for childhood posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and treatment outcome studies from 2010 to 2012 including dissemination studies, early intervention studies and studies involving preschool children. RECENT FINDINGS: Recent large-scale epidemiological surveys confirm that PTSD occurs in a minority of children and young people exposed to trauma. Detailed follow-up studies of trauma-exposed young people have investigated factors that distinguish those who develop a chronic PTSD from those who do not, with recent studies highlighting the importance of cognitive (thoughts, beliefs and memories) and social factors. Such findings are informative in developing treatments for young people with PTSD. Recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) confirm that trauma-focused cognitive behaviour therapy (TF-CBT) is a highly efficacious treatment for PTSD, although questions remain about effective treatment components. A small number of dissemination studies indicate that TF-CBT can be effective when delivered in school and community settings. One recent RCT shows that TF-CBT is feasible and highly beneficial for very young preschool children. Studies of early intervention show mixed findings. SUMMARY: Various forms of theory-based TF-CBT are highly effective in the treatment of children and adolescents with PTSD. Further work is needed to replicate and extend initial promising outcomes of TF-CBT for very young children. Dissemination studies and early intervention studies show mixed findings and further work is needed.