Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of a Novel Web-Based Intervention to Prevent Posttraumatic Stress in Children Following Medical Events

J Pediatr Psychol. 2016 Jan-Feb;41(1):138-48. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsv057. Epub 2015 Jun 18.


Objective: To assess feasibility and estimate effect size of a self-directed online intervention designed to prevent persistent posttraumatic stress after acute trauma.

Methods: Children aged 8-12 years with a recent acute medical event were randomized to the intervention (N = 36) or a 12-week wait list (N = 36). Posttraumatic stress, health-related quality of life, appraisals, and coping were assessed at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 weeks.

Results: Most children used the intervention; half completed it. Medium between-group effect sizes were observed for change in posttraumatic stress severity from baseline to 6 weeks (d = -.68) or 12 weeks (d = -.55). Exploratory analyses suggest greatest impact for at-risk children, and a small effect for intervention initiated after 12 weeks. Analysis of covariance did not indicate statistically significant group differences in 12-week outcomes.

Conclusions: This pilot randomized controlled trial provides preliminary evidence that a self-directed online preventive intervention is feasible to deliver, and could have an effect in preventing persistent posttraumatic stress.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01653288.

Keywords: adjustment; posttraumatic stress; randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Child
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Preventive Health Services / methods*
  • Quality of Life
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01653288