The Effectiveness and Feasibility of Psychological Interventions for Populations Under Ongoing Threat: A Systematic Review
Yim SH., Lorenz H., Salkovskis P.
Current views of psychological therapies for trauma typically assume the traumatic event to be in the past. Yet, individuals who live in contexts of ongoing organized violence or experience intimate partner violence (IPV) may continue to be (re)exposed to related traumatic events or have realistic fears of their recurrence. This systematic review considers the effectiveness, feasibility, and adaptations of psychological interventions for individuals living with ongoing threat. PsychINFO, MEDLINE, and EMBASE were searched for articles that examined psychological interventions in contexts of ongoing threat of either IPV or organized violence and used trauma-related outcome measures. The search was conducted according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Data on study population, ongoing threat setting and design, intervention components, evaluation methods, and outcomes were extracted, and study quality was assessed using the Mixed-Method Appraisal Tool. Eighteen papers featuring 15 trials were included (12 on organized violence and 3 on IPV). For organized violence, most studies showed moderate to large effects in reducing trauma-related symptoms when compared to waitlists. For IPV, findings were varied. Most studies made adaptations related to culture and ongoing threat and found that providing psychological interventions was feasible. The findings, albeit preliminary with mixed methodological quality, showed psychological treatments can be beneficial and should not be withheld in the context of ongoing organized violence and IPV. Clinical and research recommendations are discussed.