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Research review: Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child post traumatic stress disorder in the year following trauma - a meta-analytic study

Hiller, RM; Meiser-Stedman, R; Fearon, P; Lobo, S; McKinnon, A; Fraser, A; Halligan, SL; (2016) Research review: Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child post traumatic stress disorder in the year following trauma - a meta-analytic study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 10.1111/jcpp.12566. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE: Understanding the natural course of child and adolescent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has significant implications for the identification of, and intervention for, at-risk youth. We used a meta-analytic approach to examine longitudinal changes in youth PTSD prevalence and symptoms over the first 12 months posttrauma. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review to identify longitudinal studies of PTSD in young people (5-18 years old), excluding treatment trials. The search yielded 27 peer-reviewed studies and one unpublished dataset for analysis of pooled prevalence estimates, relative prevalence reduction and standardised mean symptom change. Key moderators were also explored, including age, proportion of boys in the sample, initial prevalence of PTSD and PTSD measurement type. RESULTS: Analyses demonstrated moderate declines in PTSD prevalence and symptom severity over the first 3-6 months post trauma. From 1 to 6 months post trauma, the prevalence of PTSD reduced by approximately 50%. Symptoms also showed moderate decline, particularly across the first 3 months posttrauma. There was little evidence of further change in prevalence or symptom severity after 6 months, suggesting that it is unlikely a child would lose a PTSD diagnosis without intervention beyond this point. CONCLUSIONS: The current findings provide key information about the likelihood of post trauma recovery in the absence of intervention and have important implications for our understanding of child and adolescent PTSD. Results are discussed with reference to the timing of PTSD screening and the potential role of early interventions. Findings particularly highlight the importance of future research to develop our understanding of what factors prevent the action of normal recovery from the 'acute' post trauma period.

Type: Article
Title: Research review: Changes in the prevalence and symptom severity of child post traumatic stress disorder in the year following trauma - a meta-analytic study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/jcpp.12566
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.12566
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: child, adolescent, longitudinal, meta-analysis, posttraumatic stress, trauma
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1492870
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