Evaluation of the Teaching Recovery Techniques

– community-based intervention for refugee youth experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms. A research project within the research program migration and integration.

Project leader: Professor Anna Sarkadi External link.

Period: 2018-2021

Seat of learning: Uppsala University

Project title: Evaluation of the Teaching Recovery Techniques community-based intervention for refugee youth experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms


What is the project about?

Refugee youth have often experienced trauma and are at significant risk of developing mental health problems such as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression that can continue years after resettlement. This research project aims to evaluate a community-based intervention for refugee youth experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms called Teaching Recovery Techniques (TRT).

The programme was developed by the Children and War Foundation in the UK and Norway to increase coping and promote recovery from post-traumatic stress in children aged eight or above in conflict/disaster. TRT was explicitly built to meet the needs of low-resource settings, where large numbers of children needed intervention. It is a light-touch group intervention, with seven weekly sessions, based on CBT. Group facilitator does not need to have previous therapeutic experience, and can host group after a three day training.

In 2017 our research group conducted an exploratory trial on TRT for unaccompanied refugee youth. Overall, our results indicated that TRT is a promising indicated preventive programme for unaccompanied refugee youth with PTSD symptoms. In the current project, both accompanied (8-17 years) and unaccompanied (14-20 years) children and youth are involved in randomized trials of TRT. We hope to improve the evidence-base of TRT in the Scandinavian context.

Research questions

The goal of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the programme Teaching Recovery Techniques in a controlled trial, regarding symptoms of posttraumatic stress, depression, self-efficacy, and quality of life in refugee and asylum-seeking children and youth 8-20 years of age, which will be assesses through pre-intervention, post-intervention and 3-month follow up surveys. The effects of TRT will be compared with a waitlist control group. Qualitative methods will be used to explore participants, parents and group leader experiences.

Additionally, we aim to examine if TRT has any effects on the steroid profile of participating youth, as well as to describe and explore the process of user involvement based on observational data and the users’ perspective.

Project participants

  • Uppsala University, Sweden
  • Mid Sweden University, Sweden
  • Primary Children’s Center for Safe and Healthy Families, Salt Lake City, USA
  • University of Manchester, UK
  • Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Norway

The project has received funding from the Kavli Trust. External link.

The research team collaborate with the Swedish child rights organization BRIS – Children’s Right in Society External link..

Publications

Evaluation of the Teaching Recovery Techniques community-based intervention for unaccompanied refugee youth experiencing post-traumatic stress symptoms (Swedish UnaccomPanied yOuth Refugee Trial; SUPpORT): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials 21, 63 (2020). https://trialsjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13063-019-3814-5 External link.

Mapping trauma support onto the shifting landscape of seeking refuge in Sweden: insights from an ongoing programme of research on refugee minors’ mental health. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry (2020). https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00787-020-01592-7 External link.

‘I felt like a human being’— An exploratory, multi‐method study of refugee involvement in the development of mental health intervention research. Health Expectations. 2019. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/hex.12990 External link.

Lampa, E., Sarkadi, A., Warner, G. (2021). Implementation and maintenance of a community-based intervention for refugee youth reporting symptoms of post-traumatic stress: lessons from successful sites. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18010043 External link.

Löfving Gupta, S., Wijk, K., Warner, G., Sarkadi, A. (2021). Readiness of Allied Professionals to Join the Mental Health Workforce: A Qualitative Evaluation of Trained Lay Trauma Counsellors' Experiences When Refugee Youth Disclose Suicidal Ideation. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041486 External link.

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