Children's Mental Health Care Following Hurricane Katrina

A Field Trial of Trauma-Focused Psychotherapies

Published In: Journal of Traumatic Stress, v. 23, no. 2, Apr. 2010, p. 223-231

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2009

by Lisa H. Jaycox, Judith B. Cohen, Anthony P Mannarino, Douglas Walker, Audra K. Langley, Kate L Gegenheimer, Molly M. Scott, Matthias Schonlau

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New Orleans school children participated in an assessment and field trial of two interventions 15 months after Hurricane Katrina. Children (N = 195) reported on hurricane exposure, lifetime trauma exposure, peer and parent support, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms. Teachers reported on behavior. At baseline, 60.5% screened positive for PTSD symptoms and were offered a group intervention at school or individual treatment at a mental health clinic. Uptake of the mental health care was uneven across intervention groups, with 98% beginning the school intervention, compared to 37% beginning at the clinic. Both treatments led to significant symptom reduction of PTSD symptoms, but many still had elevated PTSD symptoms at posttreatment. Implications for future postdisaster mental health work are discussed.

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