Researchers from the University of Bielefeld in Germany compared the efficacy of two different treatments for children in a refugee camp in Sri Lanka with severe PTSD, in the acute aftermath of the Tsunami of 2004.

Thirty-one children were randomly assigned to one of two pragmatic, short-term interventions, delivered by trained local counselors: either 6 sessions of Narrative Exposure Therapy for children (KIDNET) or six sessions of meditation-relaxation (MED-RELAX).

Outcome measures were taken of the severity of PTSD symptoms, level of functioning and physical health.

The findings revealed that in both treatment conditions, PTSD symptoms and impairment in functioning were significantly reduced at one month post-test and remaining stable over time.  At 6 months follow-up, recovery rates were 81% for the children in the KIDNET group and 71% for those in the MED-RELAX group. Recovery rates in the treatment groups exceeded the expected rates of natural recovery,

The study concluded that it had produced preliminary evidence for the effectiveness of narrative exposure therapy as well as for meditation-relaxation techniques, when carried out by trained local counselors, for the treatment of PTSD in children in the direct aftermath of mass disasters.

Citation:  Catani C, Kohiladevy M, Ruf M, Schauer E, Elbert T, Neuner FTreating children traumatized by war and Tsunami: a comparison between exposure therapy and meditation-relaxation in North-East Sri Lanka. BMC Psychiatry. 2009 May 13;9:22. [email protected]