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Trauma-informed interventions for justice-involved youth: A meta-analysis

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)
Original Solicitation

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $74,998)

George Mason University proposes the project titled, Trauma-Informed Interventions for Justice-Involved Youth: A Meta-Analysis. It is well established that trauma has serious negative effects on children and youth. Trauma may take many forms, including child abuse and maltreatment, physical and sexual assault, neglect, and exposure to violence in the home or community. The theoretical literature and a robust body of research links childhood trauma with deviant behaviors, delinquency, and even later involvement in the criminal justice system as an adult. Trauma-informed treatment aims to improve outcomes for youth who have experienced trauma, and maintain a high quality standard of care across systems that deal with youth (e.g., first responder systems, child welfare systems, education systems, juvenile justice systems, etc.). The focus is to help youth and their families productively deal with trauma and mitigate the possibility of future trauma or other negative outcomes.

This research project aims to synthesize the quantitative evidence on the effectiveness of treatment programs for justice-involved youth and youth at-risk of delinquency who have experienced some form of trauma. Thus, researchers at George Mason University plan to examine two inter-related studies. The first are studies examining the effectiveness of trauma-informed treatments for justice-involved youth. The second are studies examining the effectiveness of trauma-informed treatments for preventing justice-system involvement for youth not yet in the juvenile justice system at the time of treatment.

Although there have been some recent reviews on this topic, these reviews have not focused on juvenile-justice system involved youth or focused on delinquency and related outcomes. Previous reviews have focused mainly on mental health outcomes. The researchers aim to extend the current understanding of the effectiveness of these programs by examining which trauma-informed treatments and treatment elements are more or less effective than others. To do so, the investigators will systematically review and meta-analyze all available studies on the effectiveness of relevant trauma-informed treatments with respect to delinquency and other relevant outcomes, such as substance use, aggression/violence, PTSD symptoms, impulsiveness, and executive functioning. All of these outcomes are related to both trauma and delinquency.
The proposed project will use state-of-the-art meta-analytic methods, including an extensive and systematic search of the literature of eligible published and unpublished studies, extensive coding of study features and extraction of effect sizes, and meta-analysis of effect sizes that examine patterns of effects in relationship to variations in program features, including the application of network meta-analysis. Findings will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal and presented in various venues. A plain language summary will also be produced for OJJDP.


Date Created: September 14, 2016