Intervention effectiveness among war-affected children: A cluster randomized controlled trial on improving mental health

Authors

  • Samir R. Qouta,

    1. Department of Psychology, Islamic University Gaza, Gaza City, Palestine
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  • Esa Palosaari,

    1. School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
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  • Marwan Diab,

    1. Department of Public Relations, Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, Gaza City, Palestine
    2. Helsinki Collegium for Advanced studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
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  • Raija-Leena Punamäki

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland
    2. Helsinki Collegium for Advanced studies, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
    • School of Social Sciences and Humanities/Psychology, Kalevankatu 5, Linna 4krs, FIM-33014, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
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Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum for “Intervention Effectiveness Among War-Affected Children: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial on Improving Mental Health” Article first published online: 12 October 2017

  • The Finnish Academy of Science financed the study (#215555), and our excellent field workers Mohmed Shame, Mohmed Motter, Amel Hossen, Reham Faed, and Ahmed Syied made it possible. We wish to thank also the participating children, the Palestinian Ministry of Education, and school headmasters and teachers.

Abstract

We examined the effectiveness of a psychosocial intervention in reducing mental health symptoms among war-affected children, and the role of peritraumatic dissociation in moderating the intervention impact on posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS). School classes were randomized into intervention (n = 242) and waitlist control (n = 240) conditions in Gaza, Palestine. The intervention group participated in 16 extracurriculum sessions of teaching recovery techniques (TRT) and the controls received normal school-provided support. Participants were 10- to 13-year-old Palestinian girls (49.4%) and boys (50.6%). Data on PTSS, depressive symptoms, and psychological distress were collected at baseline (T1), postintervention (T2), and 6-month follow-up (T3). Peritraumatic dissociation was assessed only at baseline. Regression analyses that took regression to the mean and cluster sampling into account were applied. The results on intervention effectiveness were specific to gender and peritraumatic dissociation. At T2, the intervention significantly reduced the proportion of clinical PTSS among boys, and both the symptom level (R2 = .24), and proportion of clinical PTSS among girls who had a low level of peritraumatic dissociation. The results have implications for risk-specific tailoring of psychosocial interventions in war conditions.

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