Empirical evidence on the effectiveness of evidence-based treatments for adolescents with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in low-resource settings is needed.
To evaluate the comparative effectiveness of prolonged exposure and supportive counselling in adolescents with PTSD.
Sixty-three adolescents (13–18 years) with PTSD were randomly assigned to receive either of the interventions comprising 7–14 sessions of treatment (trial registration in the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry: PACTR201511001345372). The primary outcome measure was PTSD symptom severity, as independently assessed on the Child PTSD Symptom Scale at pre-treatment, post-treatment, and at 3- and 6-month follow-up.
Participants receiving prolonged exposure experienced greater improvement on the PTSD symptom severity scale than those receiving supportive counselling (between group differences at post-intervention, mean 12.49, 95% CI 6.82–18.17, P<0.001; d = 1.22). A similar effect size was maintained at 3-month (d = 0.85) and 6-month (d = 1.02) follow-up assessments.
Adolescents with PTSD experienced greater benefit from prolonged exposure treatment when provided by non-specialist health workers (nurses) in a community setting.
Declaration of interest