Authors: Betancourt TS, Newnham EA, Brennan RT, Verdeli H, Borisova I, Neugebauer R, Bass J, Bolton P.
As we build the evidence base of interventions for depression among war-affected youth, it is critical to understand factors moderating treatment outcomes. The current study investigated how gender and history of abduction by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels moderated treatment outcomes for war-affected youth.
The study-a three-armed, randomized, controlled trial-was conducted with internally displaced war-affected adolescents in northern Uganda. Participants with significant depression symptoms (N = 304; 57% female; 14-17 years of age) were randomly assigned to an interpersonal psychotherapy group (IPT-G), a creative play/recreation group, or a wait-list control condition. Secondary analyses were conducted on data from this randomized controlled trial.
A history of abduction by Lord’s Resistance Army rebels was reported by 42% of the sample. Gender and abduction history interacted to moderate the effectiveness of IPT-G for the treatment of depression. In the IPT-G intervention arm, treatment effectiveness was greatest among female subjects without an abduction history, with effect size = 1.06. IPT-G was effective for the treatment of depression for both male and female subjects with a history of abduction (effect size = .92 and .50, respectively). Male subjects with no abduction history in IPT-G showed no significant improvement compared with those in the control conditions.
Abduction history and gender are potentially important moderators of treatment effects, suggesting that these factors need to be considered when providing interventions for war-affected youth. IPT-G may be an effective intervention for female subjects without an abduction history, as well as for both male and female former child soldiers, but less so for male subjects without an abduction history.
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