Early psychological interventions to treat acute traumatic stress symptoms

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Individual trauma-focused cognitive behavioural interventions were effective, in the short-term, for individuals with acute traumatic stress symptoms compared to both waiting list and supportive counselling interventions; however, caution should be taken in interpreting these results because the quality of trials was variable, sample sizes were small and there was unexplained heterogeneity. The results of this review are in line with calls that have been made for a stepped- or stratified-care system whereby those with the most symptoms are offered more complex interventions.

The amelioration of psychological distress following traumatic events is a major concern. Systematic reviews suggest that interventions targeted at all of those exposed to such events are not effective at preventing PTSD. Recently other forms of intervention have been developed with the aim of treating acute traumatic stress problems. This review evaluates randomised trials of psychological treatments and interventions commenced within three months of a traumatic event aimed at treating acute traumatic stress reactions.

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