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A randomised comparison of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) in disasterexposed children

Author: Roos, C. de · Greenwald, R. · Hollander, G. den · Noorthoorn, E. · Buuren, S. van · Jongh, A. de
Source:European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5694
Identifier: 436103
Keywords: Health · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Human · LS - Life Style · BSS - Behavioural and Societal Sciences


Background: Building on previous research with disaster-exposed children and adolescents, a randomised clinical trial was performed in the treatment of trauma-related symptoms. In the current study two active treatments were compared among children in a broad age range and from a wide diversity of ethnic populations. Objective: The primary aim was to compare the effectiveness and efficiency of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR). Design: Children (n=52, aged 4-18) were randomly allocated to either CBT (n=26) or EMDR (n=26) in a disaster mental health after-care setting after an explosion of a fireworks factory. All children received up to four individual treatment sessions over a 4-8 week period along with up to four sessions of parent guidance. Blind assessment took place pre- and post-treatment and at 3 months follow-up on a variety of parent-rated and self-report measures of post-traumatic stress disorder symptomatology, depression, anxiety, and behaviour problems. Analyses of variance (general linear model repeated measures) were conducted on the intention-to-treat sample and the completers. Results: Both treatment approaches produced significant reductions on all measures and results were maintained at follow-up. Treatment gains of EMDR were reached in fewer sessions. Conclusion: Standardised CBT and EMDR interventions can significantly improve functioning of disasterexposed children.