Little Warriors is partnered with researchers at the University of Alberta through the Department of Psychiatry to oversee and measure the outcomes of the Be Brave Ranch treatment program.
Ongoing evaluation and quantitative data analysis is conducted and reviewed through a Scientific and Clinical Council, led by Dr. Peter Silverstone (Professor and Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta) and involving several other leading University specialists. This Council provides feedback and supports the clinical team so that programs operate in accordance with clinical best practices and all applicable regulations.
Background: Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a form of early-life trauma that affects youth worldwide. In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to investigate the potential impact of added stress on already vulnerable populations.
Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a multimodal treatment program on mental health outcomes for youth CSA survivors aged 8–17. Secondary to this, we explored the potential impact of the COVID-19 on treatment outcomes.
Participants and setting: Participants of this study were children and youth aged 8–17 who were engaged in a complex multimodal treatment program specifically designed for youth CSA survivors.
Methods: Participants were asked to complete self-report surveys at baseline and at the end of two subsequent treatment rounds. Surveys consisted of measures pertaining to: (1) PTSD, (2) depression, (3) anxiety, (4) quality of life, and (5) self-esteem.
Results: Median scores improved for all groups at all timepoints for all five domains. For the pre- Covid participants, the largest improvements in the child program were reported in depression (36.6 %, p = 0.05); in the adolescent program anxiety showed the largest improvement ( 35.7 %, p = 0.006). Improvements were generally maintained or increased at the end of round two. In almost every domain, the improvements of the pre-COVID group were greater than those of the COVID-I group.
Conclusions: A complex multimodal treatment program specifically designed for youth CSA survivors has the capacity to improve a number of relevant determinants of mental health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic may have re-traumatized participants, resulting in treatment resistance.