Pilot evaluation of a group stabilisation intervention for refugees and asylum seekers with PTSD

Mary Griggs, Cheng Liu, Kate Cooper

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Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is commonly experienced by asylum seekers and refugees (ASR). Evidence supports the use of cognitive behavioural therapy-based treatments, but not in group format for this population. However, group-based treatments are frequently used as a first-line intervention in the UK. Aims: This study investigated the feasibility of delivering a group-based, manualised stabilisation course specifically developed for ASR. The second aim was to evaluate the use of routine outcome measures (ROMs) to capture psychological change in this population. Method: Eighty-two participants from 22 countries attended the 8-session Moving On After Trauma (MOAT) group-based stabilisation treatment. PHQ-9, GAD-7, IES-R and idiosyncratic outcomes were administered pre- and post-intervention. Results: Seventy-one per cent of participants (n = 58) attended five or more of the treatment sessions. While completion rates of the ROMs were poor - measures were completed at pre- and post-intervention for 46% participants (n = 38) - a repeated-measures MANOVA indicated significant improvements in depression (p =.001, ηp2 =.262), anxiety (p =.000, ηp2 =.390), PTSD (p =.001, ηp2 =.393) and idiosyncratic measures (p =.000, ηp2 =.593) following the intervention. Conclusions: Preliminary evidence indicates that ASR who attended a low-intensity, group-based stabilisation group for PTSD experienced lower mental health scores post-group, although the lack of a comparison group means these results should be interpreted with caution. There are significant challenges in administering ROMs to individuals who speak many different languages, in a group setting. Nonetheless, groups have benefits including efficiency of treatment delivery which should also be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-116
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2022


  • PTSD
  • asylum seeker
  • refugee
  • trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology


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