Randomised controlled trial of psychological debriefing for victims of acute burn trauma

J I Bisson, P L Jenkins, J Alexander, C Bannister
British Journal of Psychiatry 1997, 171: 78-81

BACKGROUND: Psychological debriefing (PD) is widely used following major traumatic events in an attempt to reduce psychological sequelae.

METHOD: One hundred and thirty-three adult burn trauma victims entered the study. After initial questionnaire completion, participants were randomly allocated to an individual/couple PD group or a control group who received no intervention; 110 (83%) were interviewed by an assessor blind to PD status three and 13 months later.

RESULTS: Sixteen (26%) of the PD group had PTSD at 13-month follow-up, compared with four (9%) of the control group. The PD group had higher initial questionnaire scores and more severe dimensions of burn trauma than the control group, both of which were associated with a poorer outcome.

CONCLUSION: This study seriously questions the wisdom of advocating one-off interventions post-trauma, and should stimulate research into more effective initiatives.

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