A teacher-delivered intervention for adolescents exposed to ongoing and intense traumatic war-related stress: A quasi-randomized controlled study

Rony Berger, Marc Gelkopf, Yotam Heineberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: For the past 8 years, the residents of Sderot - a town in southern Israel - have been exposed to ongoing and intense war-related threat due to daily rocket attacks and mortar shelling from the adjacent Gaza region. This study first evaluates the prevalence of posttraumatic symptomatology in a sample of seventh- and eighth-grade students, and then assesses the efficacy of a universal teacher-delivered skill-oriented and present-focused intervention in preventing and reducing adolescents' posttraumatic stress-related symptoms. Method: In a quasi-randomized controlled trial, 154 seventh- and eighth-grade students with significant levels of war-related exposure were assigned to participate in either a manualized active 16-session intervention (Extended Enhancing Resiliency Amongst Students Experiencing Stress, ERASE-Stress) or a waiting-list control group. They were assessed using self-report measures before and after the intervention on posttraumatic stress-related symptoms, somatic complaints, functional impairment, and anxiety. Results: At baseline, 43.5% were found to have a likely diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder. A month after the intervention ended, students in the active intervention showed statistically significant reduction on all outcome measures compared with those in the waiting-list control group. Conclusions: Extended ERASE-Stress - a universal teacher-delivered skill-oriented program not targeting traumatic memories and involving trained and supervised homeroom teachers - may help students suffering from significant war-related posttraumatic symptoms reduce their level of symptomatology and can serve as an important and effective component of a community mental health policy for communities affected by chronic trauma, such as war and terrorism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-461
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2012

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Community interventions
  • PTSD
  • School-based interventions
  • Somatization
  • Teacher-delivered interventions
  • Terrorism
  • Trauma
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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