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Open Access Research article

Listen protect connect for traumatized schoolchildren: a pilot study of psychological first aid

Marizen Ramirez12*, Karisa Harland2, Maisha Frederick2, Rhoda Shepherd3, Marleen Wong4 and Joseph E Cavanaugh25

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Iowa, 105 S. River St. #318, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA

2 Injury Prevention Research Center, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

3 Cedar Rapids Community School District, Cedar Rapids, IA, USA

4 School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

5 Department of Biostatistics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA

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BMC Psychology 2013, 1:26  doi:10.1186/2050-7283-1-26

Published: 27 November 2013

Abstract

Background

Listen Protect Connect (LPC), a school-based program of Psychological First Aid delivered by non-mental health professionals, is intended to support trauma-exposed children. Our objective was to implement LPC in a school setting and assess the effectiveness of LPC on improving psychosocial outcomes associated with trauma.

Methods

A pilot quasi-experiment was conducted with middle school children self-identified or referred to the school nurse as potentially exposed to stressful life experiences. LPC was provided to students by the school nurse, and questionnaires were administered at baseline, 2-, 4- and 8-weeks to assess life stressors, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, social support, and school connectedness. A total of 71 measurements were collected from 20 children in all. Although a small sample size, multiple measurements allowed for multivariable mixed effects models to analyze changes in the repeated outcomes over time.

Results

Students who received the intervention had reduced depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms from baseline throughout follow-up period. Total social support also increased significantly from baseline through 8-weeks, and school connectedness increased up to 4-weeks post-intervention.

Conclusions

This study demonstrates the potential of LPC as a school-based intervention of Psychological First Aid. Future randomized trials of LPC are needed, however.

Keywords:
Post-traumatic stress disorders; Intervention studies; Schools; Child