Effectiveness of three brief treatments for recent traumatic events in a low-SES community setting.

Gail Ironson, Emily Hylton, Brian Gonzalez, Brent Small, Blanche Freund, Myriam Gerstein, Fabian Thurston, Lindsay Bira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: To determine whether brief treatments provide psychological relief after traumatic events in low-resource communities. Method: Participants (n = 105) who had experienced a traumatic event within the past 6 months were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 4-session treatments: individual eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), group-administered stress management with a trauma focus (SMT), or group-administered psychological first aid (PFA). Measures administered pretreatment and at 1-, 3-, and 6-month posttreatment included posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, posttraumatic cognitions (PTCI), and depressive symptoms (BDI). Results: The 3 treatment groups all showed significant declines in PTSD, PTCI, and BDI symptoms over time with large prepost effect sizes (median 1-month: 0.96, 3-month: 1.38, 6-month: 1.10). However, the treatment groups showed significantly different rates of decline, with the EMDR group showing the fastest declines—interaction PTCI: F(1, 237) = 5.85, p = .016; depression:, F(1, 239) = 4.90, p = .028—followed by the SMT and then PFA group. While there were significant differences between the EMDR and PFA groups at the 1- and 3-month follow-ups, there were no significant differences in any of the 3 outcome measures at the 6-month follow-up, nor were there significant differences between groups on PTSD symptoms, F(1, 239) = 2.30, p = .131. Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence that any of these 3 approaches may be useful in low-resource community settings. Because it gives the quickest relief, EMDR is the preferred approach, followed by SMT, due its ease of administration. PFA provides a reasonable alternative. Where possible, booster sessions should be planned. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved) Clinical Impact Statement—This study demonstrates that brief treatments may provide psychological relief after traumatic events in low-resource communities. We observed reductions in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, posttraumatic cognitions, and depression, after four sessions of either individual eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), group-administered stress management with a trauma focus (SMT), or group-administered psychological first aid (PFA). This study provides preliminary evidence that any of three approaches may be efficacious in resource-limited settings, or where immediate relief is desired. As EMDR gives the fastest relief, it would be the preferred approach, followed by SMT, which was group-administered and therefore more cost-effective. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • EMDR
  • brief interventions
  • posttraumatic stress
  • psychological first aid
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology

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