Objective: This pilot study evaluated the effectiveness of a four-session, caregiver–child Intervention, the Child and Family Traumatic Stress Intervention (CFTSI), to prevent the development of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) provided within 30 days of exposure to a potentially traumatic event (PTE).
Method: One-hundred seventy-six 7 to 17-year-old youth were recruited through telephone screening based on report of one new distressing posttraumatic stress symptom after a PTE. Of those, 106 youth were randomly assigned to the Intervention (n = 53) or a four-session supportive Comparison condition (N = 53). Group differences in symptom severity were assessed using repeated measures with mixed effects models of intervention group, time, and the interaction of intervention and time. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess treatment condition and any subsequent traumas experienced as predictors for full and partial PTSD diagnosis at 3-month follow-up. An exploratory chi-square analysis was performed to examine the differences in PTSD symptom criteria B, C, and D at follow-up.
Results: At baseline, youth in both groups had similar demographics, past trauma exposures and symptom severity. At follow-up, the Intervention group demonstrated significantly fewer full and partial PTSD diagnoses than the Comparison group on a standardized diagnostic measure of PTSD. Also, there was a significant group by time interaction for Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children’s Posttraumatic Stress and Anxiety Indices as the CFTSI group had significantly lower posttraumatic and anxiety scores than the Comparison group.
Conclusions: The results suggest that a caregiver–youth, brief preventative early intervention for youth exposed to a PTE is a promising approach to preventing chronic PTSD.