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May 2008

Identifying, Treating, and Referring Traumatized Children: The Role of Pediatric Providers

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, Allegheny General Hospital, Drexel University College of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Drs Cohen and Mannarino); and Departments of Pediatrics and Public Health, The Ohio State University, Columbus (Dr Kelleher).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(5):447-452. doi:10.1001/archpedi.162.5.447

Objectives  To describe practical ways for pediatric providers to screen children for exposure to potentially traumatic events and trauma symptoms, provide brief office-based pediatric interventions for trauma-exposed children, engage families in mental health care referrals, and recognize elements of evidence-based practices for traumatized children.

Main Exposure  Many children exposed to potentially traumatic events develop severe and long-lasting negative somatic and psychological problems. Pediatric providers are often ideally situated to detect children with these symptoms, provide office-based interventions, and make referrals to optimal community treatment providers.

Main Outcome Measures  Several comprehensive literature reviews of evidence-based treatments for traumatized children conducted by other organizations were evaluated and summarized for their relevance to primary care pediatricians.

Results  Optimal pediatric screening and office-based interventions for traumatized children are described. Evidence-based practices for traumatized children are summarized and their common treatment elements extracted. Suggestions for engaging families in mental health care referrals are included.

Conclusions  Pediatric providers can identify and provide office-based interventions for traumatized children as well as play a critical role in referring children for optimal mental health treatments.