Improving Adjustment and Resilience in Children Following a Disaster

Addressing Research Challenges

Published in: American Psychologist [Epub 2018]. doi:10.1037/amp0000181

Posted on RAND.org on April 11, 2018

by Wendy S. Grolnick, David J. Schonfeld, Merritt Schreiber, Judith B. Cohen, Valerie Cole, Lisa H. Jaycox, John Lochman, Betty Pfefferbaum, Kenneth Ruggiero, Kenneth B. Wells, Marleen Wong, Douglas F. Zatzick

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There is compelling evidence of the potential negative effects of disasters on children's adjustment and functioning. Although there is an increasing base of evidence supporting the effectiveness of some interventions for trauma following disaster, more research is needed, particularly on interventions that can be delivered in the early aftermath of disaster as well as those that can address a broader range of adjustment difficulties such as bereavement that may be experienced by children after a disaster. This article identifies gaps in the knowledge of how best to intervene with children following disasters. Key challenges in conducting research in disaster contexts, including obtaining consent, designing rigorous studies, and obtaining funding quickly enough to conduct the study, are discussed. Several strategies hold promise to address research challenges in disasters, including using alternative designs (e.g., propensity scores, matched control groups, group-level assignment), working with schools and communities, and studying implementation of nontraditional modes of intervention delivery.

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