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A Randomized Controlled Trial Assessing the Efficacy of Group Psychological First Aid

Despeaux, Katie E. MS*; Lating, Jeffrey M. PhD*; Everly, George S. Jr PhD*,†,‡; Sherman, Martin F. PhD*; Kirkhart, Matthew W. PhD*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: August 2019 - Volume 207 - Issue 8 - p 626–632
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0000000000001029
Original Articles

A randomized controlled trial assessed the efficacy of group psychological first aid (PFA) by comparing the Johns Hopkins RAPID-PFA model with a group conversation condition in 119 participants using the state version of State Trait Anxiety Scale and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedules. Both groups showed similar baseline scores, and after watching a distressing 5-minute video, both groups showed similar significant increases in state anxiety scores and negative affect scores, as well as similar decreases in positive affect scores. However, compared with the group conversation condition, the RAPID-PFA group evidenced significantly lower state anxiety scores at postintervention and at 30-minute delay. RAPID-PFA, compared with the group conversation condition, was also more effective in lowering negative affect scores postintervention, and significantly increasing positive affect scores at 30-minute delay. These results support the two primary goals of PFA, which are mitigating acute distress and instilling hope.

*Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Send reprint requests to Jeffrey M. Lating, PhD, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Maryland, 4501 North Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21210. E-mail:

Online date: July 15, 2019

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