Identifying, treating, and referring traumatized children: the role of pediatric providers

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008 May;162(5):447-52. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.5.447.


Objectives: To describe practical ways for pediatric providers to screen children for exposure to potentially traumatic events and trauma symptoms, provide brief office-based pediatric interventions for trauma-exposed children, engage families in mental health care referrals, and recognize elements of evidence-based practices for traumatized children.

Main exposure: Many children exposed to potentially traumatic events develop severe and long-lasting negative somatic and psychological problems. Pediatric providers are often ideally situated to detect children with these symptoms, provide office-based interventions, and make referrals to optimal community treatment providers.

Main outcome measures: Several comprehensive literature reviews of evidence-based treatments for traumatized children conducted by other organizations were evaluated and summarized for their relevance to primary care pediatricians.

Results: Optimal pediatric screening and office-based interventions for traumatized children are described. Evidence-based practices for traumatized children are summarized and their common treatment elements extracted. Suggestions for engaging families in mental health care referrals are included.

Conclusions: Pediatric providers can identify and provide office-based interventions for traumatized children as well as play a critical role in referring children for optimal mental health treatments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Office Visits
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physician's Role
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*