Online Program

Nuestros niños, nuestro futuro: Cognitive behavioral intervention for trauma in schools

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Julia Dickson-Gomez, PhD, Center for AIDS Intervention Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI
Background/Objectives: Children increasingly are exposed to or victims of community and family violence and may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health issues as a result. However most children with mental health issues are not detected and do not receive treatment. This project replicated a school-based intervention for trauma, Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), in 5th to 8th graders of a Milwaukee charter school. Methods: Eligibility criteria included having experienced at least one traumatic life event as and having PTSD. 231 children were screened of whom 102 were enrolled in the intervention. Interventions consisted of 10 group sessions, one to three individual sessions and educational meetings held for parents. Students completed the Child PTSD Symptom Scale and the Children's Depression Inventory at baseline, immediately post-intervention, 3- and 6-moth follow-up. Results: All screened children showed a very high prevalence of traumatic life events, with 47% reporting seven or more traumatic life events, 60% reporting having been threatened, slapped or beaten up, and 28% reporting having seen someone stabbed, shot or threatened with a gun . Children completing the intervention showed significant decreases in PTSD at 3- and 6-month (3-month t(41)=4.71, p<.001; 6-month t(30)=3.65, p<.01). Children also experienced statistically significant reductions in depression scores (M=1.33, SD=0.29, t(30)=2.78, p<.01) between baseline and 3-month follow-up. Conclusions: The CBITS intervention was effective in reducing PTSD and depression symptoms among children who experienced traumatic life events. Schools are a highly accessible and acceptable setting to provide mental health interventions.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Identify the short-term consequences of exposure to community violence and the long-term consequences in terms of school performance and problems with mental health. Identify components of successful cognitive behavioral interventions for trauma for use among school based children. Identify strategies for implemeting school based mental health initiatives in school.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Prinicipal Investigator of this study and have been principal investigator on multiple projects dealing with the effects of community violence.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.