Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Screening Test May Help Identify PTSD Risk in Preschoolers

Swiss researchers report that clinicians using a “short, valid, and reliable screening instrument” can evaluate acute stress symptoms in preschool children as a way to help predict later onset of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The 87 children in the study, aged 2 to 6, had suffered road accidents or burns and were treated at University Children’s Hospital Zurich. The children were assessed with the 21-item Pediatric Emotional Distress Scale Early Screener (PEDS-ES) between six and 13 days of the accident. They were also evaluated six months later for symptoms of PTSD.

The PEDS-ES produced 85 percent sensitivity and 63 percent specificity for identifying full or partial PTSD, wrote Didier Kramer, M.Sc., a doctoral candidate, and Markus Landholt, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Zurich, in the October Pediatrics. Asking families about preexisting child or family trauma or history of psychiatric problems did not improve the predictive value of the screening, they said.

“The PEDS-ES can be used within a stepped-care model for early identification of preschool-aged children for whom early psychological support should be provided,” concluded the authors.

To read more in Psychiatric News about children and PTSD, see "Study of Trauma Treatment in Children Proves Controversial." Also see the book Care of Children Exposed to the Traumatic Effects of Disaster from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(Image:  Vinicius Tupinamba/ 


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.