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How effective are measures taken to mitigate the impact of direct experience of armed conflict on the psychosocial and cognitive development of children aged 0–8?

What do we want to know?

Some 20 million children are currently victims of armed conflict. Among the civilian casualties of war, 90% are children.  The review aims to determine what interventions are effective in supporting the psychosocial and cognitive development of children aged 0-8 who have been affected by armed conflict.

Who wants to know?

 International and state agencies, NGOs, academics, practitioners, parents.

What did we find?  

Three studies using comparison groups provided outcome data on psychosocial and/or cognitive development of young refugee children with extensive experience of armed conflict and living in difficult circumstances.

  • In two studies, there was statistically significant evidence that group interventions focusing on normalisation were beneficial in terms of psychosocial outcomes.  There was no evidence of effect on cognitive development.
  • The part played by children themselves in activities promoting the ‘normalisation’ of their daily living circumstances and strengthening their coping mechanisms, appeared crucial to the success of the interventions.
  • One study found that the development of problem-focused coping strategies was more effective than emotion-focused ones.

What are the implications?

The review’s results provide some evidence for the effectiveness of group interventions. They suggest that researchers, practitioners and policy makers should consider the extent to which proposed group interventions focus on ‘normalisation’ of refugee children’s daily circumstances.  Results highlight the need to explore further the role of indigenous practitioners in successful interventions.

How did we get these results?

The review synthesised the results of 3 studies reported in 6 papers. The studies were in Bosnia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This summary was prepared by the EPPI-Centre

This report should be cited as: Lloyd E, Penn H, Barreau S, Burton V, Davis R, Potter S, Sayeed R (2005) How effective are measures taken to mitigate the impact of direct experience of armed conflict on the psychosocial and cognitive development of children aged 0–8? In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.

  
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