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Integrating Animal-Assisted Therapy Into Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Maltreated Youth (TF-CBT+AAT)

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details.
 
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03135119
Recruitment Status : Active, not recruiting
First Posted : May 1, 2017
Last Update Posted : March 3, 2020
Sponsor:
Collaborator:
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Brian Allen, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center

Brief Summary:
This study will examine the incremental benefit of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) as an adjunct intervention when combined with Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) for the treatment of maltreated youth. In addition, the development of therapeutic rapport and the intensity of stress experienced during treatment sessions will be examined as mediational mechanisms of treatment outcome. This project will help determine whether a larger study to test the beneficial effects of AAT for maltreated youth is feasible and warranted.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Child Abuse Posttraumatic Stress Behavioral: TF-CBT Behavioral: TF-CBT+AAT Not Applicable

Detailed Description:
The eventual goal of this line of research is to determine whether, and through what mechanisms, Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) is beneficial for the treatment of maltreated youth. The current project is a feasibility study to determine if larger clinical trials are warranted. The specific aims of the current study are (1) to examine whether the integration of AAT into standard Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) enhances treatment effectiveness, (2) to evaluate the tolerability and feasibility of AAT when integrated into TF-CBT, and (3) to evaluate hypothesized mediational processes that may explain observed positive effects for the integration of AAT. Maltreated youth may display myriad emotional and behavioral symptoms; prominent among these is posttraumatic stress (PTS). TF-CBT is a well-established evidence-based treatment for PTS and other symptoms subsequent to child maltreatment and, therefore, is a suitable intervention for this trial. Sixty (60) maltreated youth (ages 6-17) displaying elevated PTS will be assigned to receive TF-CBT or TF-CBT+AAT using a blocked randomization procedure. The TF-CBT protocol is the standard twelve 90-minute sessions typically used in research trials. Youth in the TF-CBT+AAT condition will receive the standard protocol with a certified service dog present in the room for each session and the youth will be allowed to interact with the dog during session. A pre-post design will be used to ascertain whether the addition of AAT prompts greater PTS reduction as well as greater improvements in other outcomes, including internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and emotion regulation. Outcome metrics include caregiver and youth-reported objective measures, and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) assessed via an electrocardiogram (ECG) during both a resting and stress reactivity paradigm. Feasibility metrics assessed include treatment satisfaction, ability to implement the TF-CBT techniques with a dog in the room, treatment disrupting events attributable to the dogs, and whether the dogs experience significant stress as a result of their participation. Stress experienced by the dog will be determined through RSA, salivary cortisol, and behavioral responses. Two prominent hypotheses regarding the mechanism of effect for AAT will be examined. First, therapeutic rapport will be assessed at multiple increments to determine whether the presence of the dog improved the quality or efficiency of development of rapport. Second, RSA will be recorded for the youth during treatment sessions to determine if the presence of the dog yielded a lower intensity of stress during the sessions. Both therapeutic rapport and level of in-session stress will be examined as mediating variables to determine whether either explained enhanced treatment outcomes. To improve the methodological rigor of the study, data will be collected by research assistants blinded to the youth's treatment condition and the same clinicians will implement both treatment conditions, thereby eliminating clinician-specific effects on outcomes.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Actual Enrollment : 32 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
Masking Description: All individuals collecting and/or handling data will be masked.
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Integrating Animal-Assisted Therapy Into Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Maltreated Youth: A Randomized Feasibility Trial
Actual Study Start Date : November 15, 2017
Estimated Primary Completion Date : April 30, 2020
Estimated Study Completion Date : April 30, 2020

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine


Arm Intervention/treatment
Active Comparator: TF-CBT
Youth will receive standard Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy
Behavioral: TF-CBT
TF-CBT is typically described as including 3 phases, each focusing on a common goal and encompassing a third of treatment (4 sessions). The first phase focuses on skills-building and includes psychoeducation, parenting skills training, relaxation skills training, affect modulation skills training, and cognitive coping skills training. The second phase involves focused gradual exposure activities, including construction of a narrative account of the child's maltreatment experiences and cognitive processing of maladaptive thoughts. The third phase emphasizes the child's mastery over environmental reminders of the maltreatment and includes sharing the trauma narrative with the caregiver, in vivo exposure to physical stimuli, and enhancing future development.

Experimental: TF-CBT+AAT
Youth will received Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy with Animal-Assisted Therapy as an adjunct.
Behavioral: TF-CBT+AAT
TF-CBT, as described in the other arm, with animal-assisted therapy as an adjunct intervention. During the administration of TF-CBT, a certified service dog will be in the room and the participant may elect to interact with the dog as various points throughout the sessions.




Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in scores on the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index for DSM-5 [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 5, week 9, week 13 ]
    A caregiver and self-report version of the form to assess posttraumatic stress


Secondary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in scores on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 5, week 9, week 13 ]
    A caregiver report measure of youth's emotional concerns, behavioral problems, and social skills

  2. Change in scores on the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 5, week 9, week 13 ]
    A youth self-report measure of anxiety symptoms

  3. Change in scores on the Moods and Feelings Questionnaire [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 5, week 9, week 13 ]
    A youth self-report measure of depression symptoms

  4. Change in scores on the Emotion Regulation Checklist [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 13 ]
    A caregiver report measure of a youth's ability to regulate emotions

  5. Change in scores on the Emotion Regulation Index for Children and Adolescents [ Time Frame: Week 1, week 13 ]
    A youth self-report measure of a youth's ability to regulate emotions


Other Outcome Measures:
  1. Change in physiological stress response [ Time Frame: All weeks 1 - 13 ]
    Stress response will be measured in response to a defined stressor (Trier Social Stress Task) and during session.

  2. Change in scores on the Therapeutic Alliance Scale for Children [ Time Frame: Week 2, week 4, week 13 ]
    A youth and caregiver-report measure that assesses perception of the quality of therapeutic rapport.



Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.


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Ages Eligible for Study:   6 Years to 17 Years   (Child)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No
Criteria

Inclusion Criteria:

  • A caregiver willing to participate with the youth
  • An allegation of child maltreatment investigated by child protective services (CPS) or the police
  • A raw score of ≥ 39 (borderline or clinical elevation) on the caregiver- report version of the UCLA PTSD Reaction Index for the DSM-5.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Severe developmental delays and/or psychiatric problems that necessitate a higher level of care for the child. An allegation of child maltreatment investigated by child protective services (CPS) or the police
  • Intellectual deficits for the child (IQ < 80 on a cognitive screener)
  • Caregiver inability to complete assessment measures due to psychiatric, cognitive, or other limitation
  • The available caregiver is suspected or known to have perpetrated maltreatment
  • A fear of dogs, a dog allergy, or any prior history of aggression toward animals for the child and/or caregiver

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (NCT number): NCT03135119


Locations
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United States, Pennsylvania
Penn State Hershey Medical Center-TLC Research and Treatment Center
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, United States, 17110
Sponsors and Collaborators
Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
Investigators
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Principal Investigator: Brian Allen Penn State College of Medicine
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Responsible Party: Brian Allen, Associate Professor, Pediatrics, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03135119    
Other Study ID Numbers: STUDY00006612
First Posted: May 1, 2017    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: March 3, 2020
Last Verified: March 2020
Individual Participant Data (IPD) Sharing Statement:
Plan to Share IPD: Yes
Plan Description: The final dataset will be stripped of individual identifiers prior to release for sharing. Data subsets will only be made available to other users under data-sharing agreements that provide for: (1) a commitment to using the data only for research purposes and not to identify any individual participant; (2) a commitment to securing the data using appropriate computer technology; and (3) a commitment to destroying or returning the data after analyses are completed. Those wishing to access the data will need to directly contact the PI to complete the data-sharing agreement.

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No