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The assessment of developmental trauma in children and adolescents: A systematic review

Denton, Ruth, Frogley, Catherine, Jackson, Sue, John, Mary and Querstret, Dawn (2016) The assessment of developmental trauma in children and adolescents: A systematic review Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 22 (2). pp. 260-287.

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The assessment of children and young people with history of complex developmental trauma presents a significant challenge to services. Traditional diagnostic categories such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are argued to be of limited value, and while the proposed ‘Developmental Trauma Disorder’ definition attempts to address this debate, associated assessment tools have yet to be developed. This review builds on a previous review of assessment measures, undertaken in 2005.


To identify trauma assessment tools developed or evaluated since 2004 and determine which are developmentally appropriate for children or adolescents with histories of complex trauma.


A systematic search of electronic databases was conducted with explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria.


A total of 35 papers were identified evaluating 29 measures assessing general functioning and mental health (N = 10), PTSD (N = 7) and trauma symptomatology outside, or in addition to, PTSD (N = 11). Studies were evaluated on sample quality, trauma/adversity type, as well as demographic and psychometric data. Distinction was made between measures validated for children (0–12 years) and adolescents (12–18 years).


Few instruments could be recommended for immediate use as many required further validation. The Assessment Checklist questionnaires, designed with a developmental and attachment focus, were the most promising tools.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Authors :
Denton, Ruth
Frogley, Catherine
Jackson, Sue
Date : 2 March 2016
DOI : 10.1177/1359104516631607
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright 2016 SAGE Publications
Uncontrolled Keywords : Developmental trauma, complex trauma, assessment, questionnaire, child, adolescent
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 15 Aug 2018 15:45
Last Modified : 15 Aug 2018 15:45

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