EMDR for Syrian refugees with posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms:results of a pilot randomized controlled trial

C. Acarturk, E. Konuk, M. Cetinkaya, I. Senay, M. Sijbrandij, P. Cuijpers, T. Aker

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Abstract

Background: The most common mental health problems among refugees are depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is an effective treatment for PTSD. However, no previous randomized controlled trial (RCT) has been published on treating PTSD symptoms in a refugee camp population. Objective: Examining the effect of EMDR to reduce the PTSD and depression symptoms compared to a wait-list condition among Syrian refugees. Method: Twenty-nine adult participants with PTSD symptoms were randomly allocated to either EMDR sessions (n = 15) or wait-list control (n = 14). The main outcome measures were Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) at posttreatment and 4-week follow-up. Results: Analysis of covariance showed that the EMDR group had significantly lower trauma scores at posttreatment as compared with the wait-list group (d=1.78,95% CI: 0.92-2.64). The EMDR group also had a lower depression score after treatment as compared with the wait-list group (d= 1.14, 95% CI: 0.35-1.92). Conclusion: The pilot RCT indicated that EMDR may be effective in reducing PTSD and depression symptoms among Syrian refugees located in a camp. Larger RCTs to verify the (cost-) effectiveness of EMDR in similar populations are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number27414
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Psychotraumatology
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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