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Lancet. 2002 Sep 7;360(9335):766-71.

Single session debriefing after psychological trauma: a meta-analysis.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands.



Despite conflicting research findings and uncertain efficacy, single session debriefing is standard clinical practice after traumatic events. We aimed to assess the efficacy of this intervention in prevention of chronic symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and other disorders after trauma.


In a meta-analysis, we selected appropriate studies from databases (Medline Advanced, PsychINFO, and PubMed), the Journal of Traumatic Stress, and reference lists of articles and book chapters. Inclusion criteria were that single session debriefing had been done within 1 month after trauma, symptoms were assessed with widely accepted clinical outcome measures, and data from psychological assessments that had been done before (pretest data) and after (post-test data) interventions and were essential for calculation of effect sizes had been reported. We included seven studies in final analyses, in which there were five critical incident stress debriefing (CISD) interventions, three non-CISD interventions, and six no-intervention controls.


Non-CISD interventions and no intervention improved symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, but CISD did not improve symptoms (weighted mean effect sizes 0.65 [95% CI 0.14-1.16], 0.47 [0.28-0.66], and 0.13 [-0.29 to 0.55], respectively). CISD did not improve natural recovery from other trauma-related disorders (0.12 [-0.22 to 0.47]).


CISD and non-CISD interventions do not improve natural recovery from psychological trauma.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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