Publications by authors named "Leila Allen"

6 Publications

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The correlation between social support and post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents: A meta-analysis.

J Affect Disord 2021 Nov 16;294:543-557. Epub 2021 Jul 16.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, UK.

Background: Risk factors exploring the link between trauma and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been extensively explored in adults, however, less is known about child and adolescent populations.

Methods: The current meta-analysis aimed to systematically evaluate and summarise the child focused literature to estimate the strength of the relationship between social support and PTSD symptoms following traumatic events.

Results: Fifty primary studies reporting an effect size for the relationship between total social support scale or a source of social support with PTSD were included. A small effect size was found for the relationship between social support and PTSD (r = -0.12, 95% CI -0.16 to -0.07, k = 41), with large heterogeneity (I = 90.3%). The effect sizes between peer support (r = -0.18, 95% CI -0.10 to -0.25, k = 12), family support (r = -0.16, 95% CI -0.09 to -0.24, k = 13) and teacher support (r = -0.20, 95% CI -0.15 to -0.24, k = 5) and PTSD were also small. Moderator analyses indicated that studies reporting on participants exposed to abuse (r = -0.25) and correlations based on univariate data (r = -0.14) had higher correlations and medium heterogeneity. The main effect size was robust to publication bias and study quality.

Limitations: The cross-sectional design of the studies limits the findings and future research using prospective and longitudinal design would help to explain the relationship between social support and PTSD further.

Conclusions: The current review suggests that social support may only play a small role in protecting against PTSD and future research may benefit from exploring the link between post-trauma cognitions and social support.
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November 2021

DECRYPT trial: study protocol for a phase II randomised controlled trial of cognitive therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in youth exposed to multiple traumatic stressors.

BMJ Open 2021 07 1;11(7):e047600. Epub 2021 Jul 1.

Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychological Therapies, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

Background: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a distressing and disabling condition that affects significant numbers of children and adolescents. Youth exposed to multiple traumas (eg, abuse, domestic violence) are at particular risk of developing PTSD. Cognitive therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD), derived from adult work, is a theoretically informed, disorder-specific form of trauma-focused cognitive-behavioural therapy. While efficacious for child and adolescent single-event trauma samples, its effectiveness in routine settings with more complex, multiple trauma-exposed youth has not been established. The Delivery of Cognitive Therapy for Young People after Trauma randomised controlled trial (RCT) examines the effectiveness of CT-PTSD for treating PTSD following multiple trauma exposure in children and young people in comparison with treatment as usual (TAU).

Methods/design: This protocol describes a two-arm, patient-level, single blind, superiority RCT comparing CT-PTSD (n=60) with TAU (n=60) in children and young people aged 8-17 years with a diagnosis of PTSD following multiple trauma exposure. The primary outcome is PTSD severity assessed using the Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale (8-item version) at post-treatment (ie, approximately 5 months post-randomisation). Secondary outcomes include structured interview assessment for PTSD, complex PTSD symptoms, depression and anxiety, overall functioning and parent-rated mental health. Mid-treatment and 11-month and 29-month post-randomisation assessments will also be completed. Process-outcome evaluation will consider which mechanisms underpin or moderate recovery. Qualitative interviews with the young people, their families and their therapists will be undertaken. Cost-effectiveness of CT-PTSD relative to TAU will be also be assessed.

Ethics And Dissemination: This trial protocol has been approved by a UK Health Research Authority Research Ethics Committee (East of England-Cambridge South, 16/EE/0233). Findings will be disseminated broadly via peer-reviewed empirical journal articles, conference presentations and clinical workshops.

Trial Registration: ISRCTN12077707. Registered 24 October 2016 ( Trial recruitment commenced on 1 February 2017. It is anticipated that recruitment will continue until June 2021, with 11-month assessments being concluded in May 2022.
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July 2021

RatHat: A Self-Targeting Printable Brain Implant System.

eNeuro 2020 Mar/Apr;7(2). Epub 2020 Apr 13.

Cognitive Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199

There has not been a major change in how neuroscientists approach stereotaxic methods in decades. Here, we present a new stereotaxic method that provides an alternative approach to a traditional u-frame stereotaxic device and reduces costs, surgical time, and aids repeatability. The RatHat brain implantation system is a 3D-printable stereotaxic device for rats that is fabricated prior to surgery and fits to the shape of the skull. RatHat builds are directly implanted into the brain without the need for head-leveling or coordinate-mapping during surgery. The RatHat can be used in conjunction with the traditional u-frame stereotaxic device, but does not require the use of a micromanipulator for successful implantations. Each RatHat contains several primary components including the implant for mounting intracranial components, the surgical stencil for targeting drill sites, and the protective cap for preventing damage from impacts and debris. Each component serves a unique function and can be used together or separately. We demonstrate the feasibility of the RatHat in four different proof-of-principle experiments: (1) a three-pole cannula apparatus, (2) an optrode-electrode assembly, (3) a fixed-electrode array, and (4) a tetrode hyperdrive. Implants were successful, durable, and long-lasting (up to nine months). RatHat print files are easily created, can be modified in computer aided design (CAD) software for a variety of applications, and are easily shared, contributing to open science goals and replications. The RatHat has been adapted to multiple experimental paradigms in our lab and should be a useful new way to conduct stereotaxic implant surgeries in rodents.
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June 2021

The hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and perirhinal cortex are critical to incidental order memory.

Behav Brain Res 2020 02 1;379:112215. Epub 2019 Nov 1.

Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, United States; Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, United States. Electronic address:

Considerable research in rodents and humans indicates the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex are essential for remembering temporal relationships among stimuli, and accumulating evidence suggests the perirhinal cortex may also be involved. However, experimental parameters differ substantially across studies, which limits our ability to fully understand the fundamental contributions of these structures. In fact, previous studies vary in the type of temporal memory they emphasize (e.g., order, sequence, or separation in time), the stimuli and responses they use (e.g., trial-unique or repeated sequences, and incidental or rewarded behavior), and the degree to which they control for potential confounding factors (e.g., primary and recency effects, or order memory deficits secondary to item memory impairments). To help integrate these findings, we developed a new paradigm testing incidental memory for trial-unique series of events, and concurrently assessed order and item memory in animals with damage to the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, or perirhinal cortex. We found that this new approach led to robust order and item memory, and that hippocampal, prefrontal and perirhinal damage selectively impaired order memory. These findings suggest the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex and perirhinal cortex are part of a broad network of structures essential for incidentally learning the order of events in episodic memory.
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February 2020

A systematic review and meta-analysis on the prevalence of depression in children and adolescents after exposure to trauma.

J Affect Disord 2019 08 6;255:77-89. Epub 2019 May 6.

Department of Clinical Psychology, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, UK. Electronic address:

Background: Depression is often reported as co-occurring with post-traumatic stress disorder in children and adolescents, but its prevalence within trauma-exposed child and adolescent samples is not well understood.

Methods: Our meta-analyses addressed two questions: I. What is the prevalence of depression (either based on structured interview or cut-off on a self-report measure) in children and adolescents after exposure to trauma? II. Does trauma exposure increase the severity or rates of depression comparative to another comparison group of children and adolescents with milder exposure or no exposure to trauma?

Results: Fifty-six studies reported depression prevalence. A random effects meta-analysis suggested that 24.2% [95% CI 20.6-28.0] of children and adolescents exposed to a traumatic event met criteria for depression. Our second meta-analysis across 30 studies found that the effect of trauma exposure (relative to unexposed or less exposed children and adolescents) on depression scores was medium in size (d = 0.51, 95% CI 0.41-0.61). The odds of a diagnosis of depression were 2.6 times greater [95% CI 2.0-3.3] for children and adolescents exposed to trauma as compared to those unexposed or less exposed. Participants exposed to interpersonal violence (IPV) had a higher prevalence and level of depression compared with those exposed to non-IPV trauma.

Limitations: Results should be interpreted with caution due to high levels of heterogeneity.

Conclusion: Depression in trauma-exposed children and adolescents is a common response to trauma that is not solely reflective of pre-traumatic difficulties. Post-traumatic depression merits serious consideration in trauma-exposed children and adolescents.
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August 2019

Start as you mean to carry on: the emerging evidence base for the treatment of conflict-related mental health difficulties in children and adolescents.

Br J Psychiatry 2017 04;210(4):243-244

Richard Meiser-Stedman, PhD, DClinPsy, Leila R. Allen, BSc, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

In this editorial, we discuss Morina and colleagues' meta-analysis of psychological therapies for youth with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression following conflict. Recent years have seen significantly more randomised controlled trial evidence addressing the needs of this population. More work is needed to understand post-traumatic depression, dissemination, timing of intervention and whether trauma-focused interventions are essential.
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April 2017