Jeannie Annan, J. Bass, Ph.D., S.McIvor Murray, D. Kaysen, S. Griffiths, T. Cetinoglu, K. Wachter, L. Murray & P. Bolton

Controlled Trial of Psychotherapy for Congolese Survivors of Sexual Violence

Mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are common in survivors of sexual violence. In high-income countries, there are effective treatments for trauma related to sexual violence, but these treatments have not been adequately tested in low-income, conflict-affected countries with few mental health professionals and low literacy rates. The few studies of effectiveness have had methodologic limitations, including a lack of controls and high attrition rates.

This trial provides evidence of effectiveness of a mental health intervention for sexual-violence survivors in a low-income, conflict-affected setting. The results indicate that with appropriate training and supervision, psychotherapeutic treatments such as cognitive processing therapy can be successfully implemented and can have an effect in settings with few mental health professionals. This therapy holds promise as a community-based service for sexual-violence survivors in similar contexts and warrants confirmatory studies and scale-up evaluations.

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