Research for effective psychological interventions for refugee and asylum-seeking children has intensified. The need for interventions in environments more easily accessed by children and families is especially relevant for newly arrived populations. This paper reviews the literature on school and community-based interventions aimed at reducing psychological disorders in refugee and asylum-seeking children.
Methods and Findings:
Comprehensive searches were conducted in seven databases and further information was obtained through searching reference lists, grey literature, and contacting experts in the field. Studies were included if they reported on the efficacy of a school or community-based mental health intervention for refugee or asylum-seeking children. Two independent reviewers made the final study selection, extracted data, and reached consensus on study quality. Results were summarized descriptively. The marked heterogeneity of studies excluded conducting a meta-analysis but study effect-sizes were calculated where possible. Twenty one studies met inclusion criteria for the review reporting on interventions for approximately 1800 refugee children. Fourteen studies were carried out in high-income countries in either a school (n = 11) or community (n = 3) setting and seven studies were carried out in refugee camps. Interventions were either primarily focused on the verbal processing of past experiences (n = 9), or on an array of creative art techniques (n = 7) and others used a combination of these interventions (n = 5). While both intervention types reported significant changes in symptomatology, effect sizes ranged from 0.31 to 0.93 and could mainly be calculated for interventions focusing on the verbal processing of past experiences.
Only a small number of studies fulfilled inclusion criteria and the majority of these were in the school setting. The findings suggest that interventions delivered within the school setting can be successful in helping children overcome difficulties associated with forced migration.
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