Using a web-based game to prevent posttraumatic stress in children following medical events: design of a randomized controlled trial.

TitleUsing a web-based game to prevent posttraumatic stress in children following medical events: design of a randomized controlled trial.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsMarsac ML, Kohser KL, Winston FK, Kenardy J, March S, Kassam-Adams N
JournalEur J Psychotraumatol
Date Published2013

BACKGROUND: Medical events including acute illness and injury are among the most common potentially traumatic experiences for children. Despite the scope of the problem, only limited resources are available for prevention of posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) after pediatric medical events. Web-based programs provide a low-cost, accessible means to reach a wide range of families and show promise in related areas of child mental health.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the design of a randomized controlled trial that will evaluate feasibility and estimate preliminary efficacy of Coping Coach, a web-based preventive intervention to prevent or reduce PTSS after acute pediatric medical events.

METHOD: Seventy children and their parents will be randomly assigned to either an intervention or a waitlist control condition. Inclusion criteria require that children are aged 8-12 years, have experienced a medical event, have access to Internet and telephone, and have sufficient competency in the English language to complete measures and understand the intervention. Participants will complete baseline measures and will then be randomized to the intervention or waitlist control condition. Children in the intervention condition will complete module 1 (Feelings Identification) in the hospital and will be instructed on how to complete modules 2 (Appraisals) and 3 (Avoidance) online. Follow-up assessments will be conducted via telephone at 6, 12, and 18 weeks after the baseline assessment. Following the 12-week assessment, children in the waitlist control condition will receive instructions for completing the intervention.

RESULTS: Primary study outcomes include data on intervention feasibility and outcomes (child appraisals, coping, PTSS and health-related quality of life).

DISCUSSION: Results will provide data on the feasibility of the implementation of the Coping Coach intervention and study procedures as well as estimations of efficacy to determine sample size for a larger study. Potential strengths and limitations of this design are discussed.

Alternate JournalEur J Psychotraumatol
PubMed ID23898396
PubMed Central IDPMC3725541
Grant ListK23 MH093618 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States