Psychosocial Intervention for War-Affected Children in Sierra Leone
Background: There are no psychosocial interventions to address both educational needs and psychological distress among displaced children in post-conflict settings.
Aims: To assess the psychosocial status of displaced children enrolled in the Rapid-Ed intervention; and to determine whether the Rapid-Ed intervention alleviated traumatic stress symptoms that interfere with learning among war-affected children in Sierra Leone.
Method: A randomly selected sample of 315 children aged 8–18 years who were displaced by war were interviewed about their war experiences and reactions to the violence before and after participating in the 4-week Rapid-Ed intervention combining basic education with trauma healing activities.
Results: High levels of intrusion, arousal and avoidance symptoms were reported at the pre-test interviews conducted 9–12 months after the war. Post-test findings showed statistically significant decreases in intrusion and arousal symptoms (P<0.0001), a slight increase in avoidance reactions (P<0.0001) and greater optimism about the future.Conclusions: The findings suggest potential for combining basic education with trauma healing activities for children in post-conflict settings, but confirmatory studies using a control group are needed. Conducting research in post-conflict settings presents unique challenges. (Abstract)