History of the Project

Page Contents:

Roots of the Project

The Early Trauma Treatment Network (ETTN) was formed in 2001 as one of the original 12 centers of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN). It consists of four sites located across the United States that focus on children under the age of 6 who have experienced traumatic events:
  1. the Child Trauma Research Project, University of California, San Francisco
  2. the Child Witness to Violence Project, Boston Medical Center
  3. the Child Violence Exposure Program, Louisiana State University
  4. Tulane University/Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority Infant Team

The ETTN's goals include examining the impact of trauma on young children and developing and researching effective intervention strategies for this age group. To accomplish this task, the ETTN decided to adopt a uniform assessment protocol to be used across the four sites.

The task of selecting measures is a difficult one and in order to base decisions on good clinical and research information, the ETTN developed a measure review template, a tool to assess the "goodness" of measures. Individuals from across the four sites gave feedback regarding the tool to ensure that it assessed the key dimensions relevant to young children and the diverse cultural groups served by the ETTN. This resulted in a very thorough template. Reviews of possible measures were completed using this template, and a uniform assessment protocol was developed based on these reviews.

In 2002, at the first NCTSN All Network Meeting, ETTN members presented the idea of a searchable Measure Review Database that would include reviews conducted using a uniform review template. We discovered that this idea resonated with others. Two centers, the Trauma Center in Boston, Massachusetts and North Shore University Hospital Adolescent Trauma Center in New York were working on similar projects. The centers had reviewed different measures because of their focus on different trauma types and age groups.

Chandra Ghosh Ippen, Joseph Spinazzola, Victor Labruna, and David Pelcovitz met and discussed the possibility of working jointly on this project. This meeting resulted in the beginning of the NCTSN collaborative efforts to develop a searchable database. The collaboration grew as members of other NCTSN centers joined and helped develop the review template and domain lists through their participation in the NCTSN Measures Committee. As new centers entered the Network, we discovered that many, such as the Children's Trauma Consortium of Westchester, had similar projects and were interested in collaborating.

In 2004, the project was selected to become an NCTSN Accelerated Project. A Measure Review Database team was formed that involved eight NCTSN centers; leadership from the National Center and SAMHSA; and the web skills of the NCTSN Director of Informatics and Technology, Peter Kung and NCTSN Website and Technical and Technical Support Specialist, Iliane Morrissey. The work of this team led to the development of this resource. We hope that this work inspires others to collaborate and help us grow the database into something we hope will truly move the field forward.


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How the Review Template Was Developed

During the first meeting of the NCTSN Measures Committee, the idea for the project was shared, and a subcommittee focused on developing criteria for evaluating measures was formed. This subcommittee identified criteria for evaluating measures by reviewing the literature on psychometrics and measure development; consulting with experts in the field; consulting with NCTSN members regarding important psychometric, clinical, and practical properties of measures; and gathering information from other templates developed and used by NCTSN Centers, including templates from the Early Trauma Treatment Network, the Trauma Center, and the Childhood Violent Trauma Center, Yale/University of Connecticut Health Center. The goal was to develop a user-friendly measure review template that contained not only descriptive and psychometric fields, but information about the clinical utility and use of the measure with diverse populations. The template was submitted for review to NCTSN consultants. Once the final version was approved, subcommittee members developed a brief version of the template that would be available on the website and would contain searchable fields and other key information. A decision was made to provide the full template via PDF links.

Following the development and approval of this template, we began discussions with Dr. Beth Hudnall Stamm, the author of Measurement of Trauma, Stress, and Adaptation. Dr. Stamm was conducting a similar project, and we worked with a member of her team, Dr. Phillip Massad, to enhance the consistency of our two review templates, so that some day they might share data. This resulted in several modifications to the NCTSN template.


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How Domains Were Selected

During the first NCTSN Measures Committee meeting another subcommittee was formed that focused on identifying key domains relevant to the field of child traumatic stress. The team examined different conceptual frameworks and identified domains relevant to the different frameworks. The domain list for this project is based on the listing identified by this subcommittee.

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How Measures Were Selected

Measures were selected for inclusion in the database in a variety of ways.

  • NCTSN Survey
    • In 2004, prior beginning the formal project, the NCTSN Measure Review Database team conducted a survey of the Network centers in existence at that time. Centers were asked to nominate measures and domains for review and to give each a priority rating (3=high priority-essential; 2=important but not essential, and a 1=measure or domain may be helpful).
    • The survey was compiled and measures and domains were assigned based on priority ratings (how many sites nominated the measure/domain and the priority rating)
  • Expanding on reviews already completed by NCTSN centers
    As noted under the history of the database, a number of NCTSN sites had independent projects to review measures for the age group and trauma population they served. These reviews were shared, entered into the database, and the review was edited to ensure that all the fields on the final review template were included.
  • Literature review
    As we conducted reviews of measures, we identified additional measures that appeared to tap the key domains or to be especially relevant to the field of child trauma. In addition, in May of 2006, we completed a PsycInfo search using the terms "child" or "children" and "trauma" or "posttraumatic stress" or "PTSD." Through this search we identified other measures. Not all of these measures have been reviewed, but they provide the basis for a working list of future measure reviews that we hope will be completed.
  • Free Measures and Manuals
    Early in the history of the database, we found it difficult to get the materials on the measures. We had a small budget and many people did not respond to our request for materials regarding measures. When authors or publishing companies responded, they sometimes sent us additional materials for free. We reviewed those measures that we felt were related to the field of child traumatic stress even if they did not directly assess for trauma exposure or trauma related symptomatology. Much of this work was done by volunteer research assistants who had the time to review measures and needed materials.
  • Free Reviews
    A number of individuals used the template to complete reviews and gave us their reviews for free. For example, NCTSN affiliated undergraduate and graduate students used the template to review measures for their class or thesis projects. We did not turn down "free" reviews even if the measure did not appear to be especially relevant to the field of child trauma because we reasoned that some day this database might be expanded or used by psychologists studying many other disorders or aspects of child functioning.


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