Aims: Medical procedures and hospitalizations can be experienced as traumatic and can lead to post-traumatic stress reactions. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) shows promising results but very few long-term studies have been published. Therefore, our aim was to test the long-term (8 months post-treatment) effectiveness of EMDR in children and adolescents with medically related subthreshold post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Methods and results: Seventy-four children (including 39 with congenital or acquired heart disease) aged 4-15 (M = 9.6 years) with subthreshold PTSD after previous hospitalization were included into a parallel group randomized controlled trial. Participants were randomized to EMDR (n = 37) or care-as-usual (CAU) (n = 37; medical care only). The primary outcome was PTSD symptoms of the child. Secondary outcomes were symptoms of depression and blood-injection-injury (BII) phobia, sleep problems, and health-related quality of life (HrQoL) of the child. Assessments of all outcomes were planned at baseline and 8 weeks and 8 months after the start of EMDR/CAU. We hypothesized that the EMDR group would show significantly more improvements on all outcomes over time. Both groups showed improvements over time on child's symptoms of PTSD (only parent report), depression, BII phobia, sleep problems, and most HrQoL subscales. GEE analyses showed no significant differences between the EMDR group (nT2 = 33, nT3 = 30) and the CAU group (nT2 = 35, nT3 = 32) on the primary outcome. One superior effect of EMDR over time was found for reducing parent-reported BII phobia of the child. Conclusion: EMDR did not perform better than CAU in reducing subthreshold PTSD up to 8 months post-treatment in previously hospitalized children. Possible explanations and clinical implications are discussed.
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing|
|Publication status||Published - 8 Mar 2021|
This work was supported by Innovatiefonds Zorgverzekeraars, Stichting Hartekind & Vereniging EMDR Nederland. The funding institutions had no involvement in the study design; the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; the writing of the report; or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.
© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Society of Cardiology.