Trauma rehabilitation for war-affected persons in northern Uganda: a pilot evaluation of the EMPOWER programme

Br J Clin Psychol. 2011 Sep;50(3):234-49. doi: 10.1348/014466510X511637. Epub 2011 Mar 8.


OBJECTIVES. This study evaluated the impact of a culturally sensitive cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)-based intervention (the EMPOWER programme) for war-affected persons in northern Uganda. DESIGN. The study conducted a pilot evaluation with a convenience sample of participants from internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps (i.e., a treatment camp and waitlist control camp). This was done to avoid treatment effects spreading from the intervention to control conditions. METHODS. A total of 202 participants (N= 90 treatment participants and N= 112 control participants) were included as a convenience sample. The Acholi Psychosocial Assessment Instrument (APAI), a culturally appropriate measure of psychosocial functioning, was administered to participants residing in two IDP camps at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at 3-month follow-up. Participants in the treatment camp received the EMPOWER programme--a culturally sensitive CBT-based intervention teaching emotional resiliency and promoting forgiveness. RESULTS. Participants in the treatment condition reported (a) significantly lower scores on the depression-like syndromes and the anxiety-like syndrome and (b) significantly more prosocial behaviours, than participants in the control condition. CONCLUSIONS. The results of this study provide initial support for the application of structured CBT interventions in war-affected areas, illustrating that the EMPOWER programme could be utilized by humanitarian agencies to address the psychosocial needs of war-affected displaced persons.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Forgiveness / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Psychological Tests
  • Refugees / psychology
  • Resilience, Psychological
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Traumatic / rehabilitation*
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Warfare*
  • Young Adult