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Iraq Study

A formal evaluation of the Writing for Recovery manual will be conducted this year in one of the worst conflict affected areas inside Iraq. Several locations have been identified. The work will take forward earlier findings from field tests in the Middle East that suggest the manual’s structured and expressive writing exercises, which help writers to focus on specific traumatic events, can lead to PTSD-symptom reduction.

The Iraq study is a randomised control trial with repeated measures. It follows the manual’s recommendation for mass delivery to groups of up to 50 participants as this is recognised as a cost effective approach. Specialised attention for young people in Iraq experiencing psychological distress is being strengthened, and thus, the potential to offer relief to larger numbers could prove beneficial, particularly as the intervention can be delivered by teachers and lay professionals once trained. Additionally, group exercises amongst traumatised children have been viewed as a positive experience preferred by many young people over one-to-one intervention (Giannopoulou, Dikaiakou & Yule, 2006). The sample size is anticipated to be around 200 adolescent participants ranging in age from 12 to 17 years.

All materials have been translated into Arabic according to International Test Commission guidelines (Hambleton, 1994) and translation back-translation procedure (Weisz & Eastman, 1995) in combination with a committee approach (van de Vijver & Leung, 1997). The proposed assessment battery for measuring symptom levels via self-report questionnaires has good validity across cultures (Yule, 2002). This refers to:

Children’s Revised Impact of Events Scale (CRIES-13: Meiser-Stedman, Yule, Smith, Glucksman & Dagleish, 2005) and Depression Self-Rating Scale for Children (DSRSC: Birleson, 1981). Additional measures include: Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale (SCAS: Spence, 1997), Traumatic Grief Inventory for Children (TGIC: Dyregrov, Yule, Smith, Perrin, Gjestad & Prigerson, 2001) and Impact of School Performance Scale (ISP: Yule & Dyregrov, 2005).

The researchers are pleased to support efforts to strengthen the evidence-base for this intervention and for the opportunity to help young people in Iraq. Work begins in December 2009.