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The data behind the dissemination: A systematic review of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for use with children and youth


  • Cary, Colleen E.
  • McMillen, J. Curtis


Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) is one of the most widely disseminated mental health interventions for children and youth. The purpose of this study is to systematically review the evidence of TF-CBT's ability to reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress, depression and behavior problems in children and youth who have survived trauma. A search was conducted to locate studies that evaluated TF-CBT or interventions highly similar to TF-CBT. Ten studies (twelve articles) were selected for inclusion in three sets of meta-analyses. Findings were consistent amongst meta-analyses; pooled estimates were similar whether we were analyzing the effects of interventions that were highly similar to TF-CBT, or if we were exclusively analyzing the effects of the branded intervention. Results show that there is a significant difference between the TFCBT condition and comparison conditions in its ability to reduce symptoms of PTSD (g=.671), depression (g=.378) and behavior problems (g=.247) immediately after treatment completion. This difference held for PTSD at twelve months after treatment completion (.389) but did not hold for depression or behavior problems. There was not a significant difference between the TF-CBT condition and alternative active control conditions immediately after treatment completion. Therefore, TF-CBT is an effective intervention for the treatment of PTSD in youth.

Suggested Citation

  • Cary, Colleen E. & McMillen, J. Curtis, 2012. "The data behind the dissemination: A systematic review of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for use with children and youth," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 748-757.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:4:p:748-757
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.01.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Littell, Julia H., 2005. "Lessons from a systematic review of effects of multisystemic therapy," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 445-463, April.
    2. Henggeler, Scott W. & Schoenwald, Sonja K. & Borduin, Charles M. & Swenson, Cynthia C., 2006. "Methodological critique and meta-analysis as Trojan horse," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 447-457, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:cysrev:v:84:y:2018:i:c:p:110-117 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Anne Dannerbeck-Janku & Clark Peters & Jacob Perkins, 2014. "A Comparison of Female Delinquents: The Impact of Child Maltreatment Histories on Risk and Need Characteristics among a Missouri Sample," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 3(4), pages 1-18, October.
    3. Lang, Jason M. & Franks, Robert P. & Epstein, Carrie & Stover, Carla & Oliver, Jason A., 2015. "Statewide dissemination of an evidence-based practice using Breakthrough Series Collaboratives," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 201-209.


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