Benchmarking Treatment Effectiveness of Community-Delivered Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Am J Community Psychol. 2019 Dec;64(3-4):438-450. doi: 10.1002/ajcp.12370. Epub 2019 Aug 20.


It is critical for urban youth with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) living in poverty to have access to evidence-based interventions for their traumatic stress. However, there is limited research on the effectiveness of these interventions when provided in urban, community settings. The objectives of the current study are to (a) evaluate the effectiveness of trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy delivered from 2013 to 2016 in 15 behavioral health agencies on youth (N = 114) PTSD as well as general mental health symptoms and functioning, and (b) benchmark these clinical outcomes against other published efficacy and effectiveness trials. Effectiveness data are from the Philadelphia County Community Behavioral Health System, a system that has invested significantly in the training and ongoing support of clinicians providing high-quality trauma services to youth since 2012. From baseline to last assessment, youth PTSD symptom severity (d = 0.34), PTSD functional impairment (d = 0.38), and overall mental health problem severity (d = 0.29) improved. The effect sizes of improvements were smaller than effect sizes observed in efficacy and effectiveness studies. This study is the first benchmarking study of TF-CBT and provides preliminary findings with regard to the effectiveness, and transportability, of TF-CBT to urban community settings that serve youth in poverty.

Keywords: Benchmarking; Community-delivered intervention; Effectiveness research; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Benchmarking*
  • Child
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / standards*
  • Community Health Services*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Philadelphia
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome