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Effects of Narrative Exposure Therapy on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Insomnia in Traumatized North Korean Refugee Youth

Authors
  • Park, Jinme K.1
  • Park, Jinah2
  • Elbert, Thomas1
  • Kim, Seog Ju3
  • 1 University of Konstanz, Germany , (Germany)
  • 2 Kyonggy University, Republic of Korea , (South Korea)
  • 3 Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Republic of Korea , (South Korea)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Traumatic Stress
Publisher
Wiley (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
Mar 26, 2020
Volume
33
Issue
3
Pages
353–359
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1002/jts.22492
PMID: 32216143
PMCID: PMC7317474
Source
PubMed Central
License
Unknown
External links

Abstract

Refugees affected by multiple traumatic stressors are at high risk for developing trauma‐related mental disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and insomnia, which is sometimes overlooked. The present study examined the effectiveness of narrative exposure therapy (NET) on trauma‐related symptoms in a sample of North Korean refugee youth. We focused on sleep patterns in addition to changes in symptom severity for PTSD, depression, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms. North Korean refugee youth ( N = 20) with PTSD were assigned to either an NET‐based treatment group or a control group, which consisted of treatment as usual (TAU). There were clinically significant reductions in PTSD, depression, and internalizing and externalizing symptoms for the NET group, Hedges’ g = 3.6, but not the TAU group. The change in diagnostic status for PTSD was more notable for participants in the NET group compared to the TAU group. Of note, NET also produced a significant improvement in insomnia symptoms and sleep quality, Hedges’ g = 2.1. The substantial recovery regarding overall posttraumatic symptoms in the NET group was observed 2 weeks after the end of treatment and remained stable at 6‐month follow‐up. The results of the present study suggest that NET may be a treatment option for traumatized North Korean refugee youth and may also be effective for the treatment of sleep problems that arise from traumatic experiences.

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