Trauma-focused treatments for refugee children: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of KIDNET versus EMDR therapy versus a waitlist control group (KIEM)

Merel E. Velu, Irene Martens, Mona Shahab, Carlijn de Roos, Ruud A. Jongedijk, Michaela Schok, T. Mooren

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Background: Prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in refugees is reportedly higher in comparison to the general population. Refugee children specifically are often coping with trauma and loss and are at risk for mental health difficulties. With staggering numbers of people seeking refuge around the world and 50% being 18 years or younger, research examining the effects of trauma-focused therapies for refugee children with PTSD is highly needed. Both Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and the child version of Narrative Exposure Therapy (KIDNET) have been used for refugees, although these treatment methods have not been systematically compared. The aim of the current study is to investigate the effectiveness of EMDR and KIDNET, compared to a waitlist control group and with each other, offered to refugee children. Methods: A randomized controlled three-arm trial has been designed. The primary outcome is PTSD diagnosis and symptom severity assessed with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children DSM5 (CAPS-CA-5) at baseline (T1), 1 month post-treatment, or after 8 weeks of waiting (T2) and 3 months follow-up (T3). Additionally, instruments to assess posttraumatic stress symptoms, behavioral and emotional problems, and quality of life perception in children aged 8–18 are conducted at T1, T2, and T3. Discussion: This is the first RCT that examines the effectiveness of EMDR and KIDNET in refugee children aged 8–18 years specifically, compared to a waitlist control group intended to reduce PTSD diagnosis and severity of posttraumatic stress symptoms and comorbid complaints in a growing and challenging population. Trial registration: Dutch Trial Register NL40769. Retrospectively registered on June 16, 2021.
Original languageEnglish
Article number347
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2022


  • Children
  • EMDR
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psychotrauma
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Refugees
  • Therapy

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