Does a one-day educational training session influence primary care pediatricians' mental health practice procedures in response to a community disaster? Results from the reaching children initiative (RCI)

Int J Emerg Ment Health. 2013;15(1):3-14.


Although many children and adolescents need assessment and treatment for psychological problems, few get such treatment from mental health specialists after a community disaster Research suggests that a very large proportion of children are seen in pediatric primary care settings and that pediatricians can provide appropriate care for many social and emotional problems in children. However few pediatricians have received training in providing this help. The focus of this study was to assess whether brief training to increase the capacity of primary care pediatricians (PCPs) to respond to the social or emotional problems of children after the World Trade Center terrorist attacks improved the quality of services to disaster-affected children. Pediatricians (N = 137) attended a one-day training workshop covering best practice treatments for mental health problems with an emphasis on trauma, bereavement, and medication use. We surveyed attendees prior to training, immediately post-intervention, and 1- and 6-months later. At 6-months post-intervention, 64% of the primary care clinicians reported instituting practice changes recommended during training. Reported use of formal mental health screening instruments increased, but greater use of medications was more limited. Although participants in the immediate post-intervention survey indicated strong agreement with the desirability to implement specific practice changes, the perceived desirability of such changes declined substantially at the 6-month follow-up. Changes in PCPs 'mental health related practice procedures can be facilitated by brief educational interventions, but continued training and support may be needed. We discuss these results relative to preparedness for community disasters.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Connecticut
  • Disasters
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / methods
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / organization & administration
  • Education, Medical, Continuing / standards
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Pediatrics / methods
  • Pediatrics / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / trends*
  • Primary Health Care / methods
  • Primary Health Care / standards*
  • Program Evaluation
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology
  • Terrorism / psychology*