Does intervening early after trauma help children recover?

In 2012, the blog weekly features a summary or discussion of a recent scientific article on traumatic stress in children. This week: Kramer & Landolt (Dec 2011) about early interventions.

When children are exposed to a single traumatic event such as a car accident, a violent incident, or a disaster, many of them will recover naturally. However, a significant minority has difficulty getting back on track: 10 to 30% of the exposed children develop chronic symptoms, including Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Can we intervene early to help children recover? Systematic reviews on the efficacy of early single interventions in adults have shown either no or even harmful effects so far. In particular psychological debriefing, where survivors are asked to ventilate their emotions, cause concerns. For example, Rose et al. (2009) concluded in their meta-analysis that compulsory psychological debriefing of adults should cease.   Continue reading