The efficacy of psychosocial interventions for adults in contexts of ongoing man-made violence - A systematic review.

Rolf Kleber, K de Jong, Jeroen Knipscheer, N. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Compared to psychosocial programs implemented in post-conflict settings those executed in areas of ongoing conflicts may have different effects. Their evidence of efficacy has never been systematically reviewed. We searched PubMed, PsychInfo and the Dutch Tropical Institute Literature Portal from inception to31 January 2013 to identify studies on community-oriented psychosocial and psychiatric/clinical services for adults during ongoing manmade conflict or its direct aftermath. Of 6358 articles screened, 16 met our inclusion criteria. The interventions varied from psycho-educational to psychotropic drugs. The review is presented using outcome indicators such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, physical health, functioning and well being. A substantial improvement of some outcome was found though the small number of studies and their heterogeneity did not justify strong conclusions. PTSD symptoms improved significantly by treatments that included exposure (such as narrative exposure therapy). A number of studies (eight) showed notable improvement of the client’s functioning through counseling interventions. Depression and anxiety both improved considerably using that culturally adapted interventions (two studies), whereas non-culturalized interventions did not. We found a notable lack of studies on the efficacy of medication and on preferred western, evidence-based interventions for PTSD such Eye Movement Desensitization. To measure outcomes only two studies applied locally-developed diagnostic labels and validated instruments. Future research should encourage the use of robust research methods that are culturally valid, including mixed-methods research to combine measurable outputs with qualitative research aimed at improved understanding from the client’s perspective.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)504-516
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014


  • Psychosocial
  • Mental Health Programmes
  • Systematic Review
  • Conflict
  • Post-conflict
  • War
  • Violence
  • PTSD


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