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Chapter 3 - Treatment Outcome among Early Adolescents Two Decades Post-Earthquake

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2022

Armen Goenjian
David Geffen School of Medicine; UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
Alan Steinberg
UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
Robert Pynoos
UCLA/Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress
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There is a paucity of long-term treatment outcome studies among children and adolescents after natural disasters. This chapter summarizes findings from three long-term studies among severely traumatized early adolescents after the 1988 Spitak earthquake in Armenia, including a twenty-five-year follow-up that represents the most extended prospective treatment outcome study to date after a disaster. School-based trauma-grief-focused psychotherapy was provided at 1.5 years post-earthquake. The intervention addressed trauma and loss experiences due to the earthquake; post-trauma distress reactions, including PTSD and grief; current problems and adversities; trauma and loss reminders, interpersonal conflicts, and developmental progression. The findings showed significant long-term benefits of treatment in reducing PTSD and depressive symptoms. We also present findings regarding differences in recovery trajectories among treated and not treated subjects and risk and protective factors associated with PTSD and depression. Despite the improvements, a sub-group of the students continued to experience earthquake-related chronic PTSD and depressive symptoms at twenty-five-year follow-up, indicating the need for ongoing surveillance of severely traumatized survivors. The findings underscore the benefit of post-disaster therapeutic intervention, social support by family members and friends, and the need for assistance by governmental and non-governmental agencies to mitigate post-disaster adversities that contributed significantly to the chronicity of symptoms.

Lessons Learned in Disaster Mental Health
The Earthquake in Armenia and Beyond
, pp. 18 - 47
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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