Mental health consequences of childhood cancer

mental health childhood cancerWorldwide, more than 175,000 new cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed each year.

Georgie Johnstone, a recent vacation scholar at the Trauma Recovery Lab talks you through some thought-provoking new research on cancer and PTSD.

Overall, in children under 15 years living in the industrialised world, childhood cancer is the 4th most common cause of death. However, childhood cancer is no longer the death sentence it once was, with overall survival rates in high-income countries now at about 80 percent.

How are survivors affected by the potentially traumatic experience of their diagnosis and treatment, and how does it impact on the rest of their life and that of their family? Research has indicated that cancer survivors are at an increased risk not only from somatic late effects related to cancer and treatment, but also for depression, anxiety and antisocial behaviour. Lifetime prevalence of cancer-related PTSD has been estimated at 20-35% in survivors and 27-54% in their parents. However, new research in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has challenged these estimates.

The risk of a focusing illusion
Continue reading

Ear for Recovery

Ear for RecoveryWe know that parents are incredibly important for children’s recovery from a traumatic event. Social support is one of the strongest predictors of trauma recovery. On the other hand, parental distress after trauma is related to children’s posttraumatic stress later on.

But how do parents exactly influence children’s trajectory after something bad has happened? Continue reading

We’d rather rely on others to do the hard work

Social capitalIt’s called the collective action problem: we’d rather rely on others to do the hard work.

In a cohesive community however, it is more likely that people will volunteer to become active. The reason? The enforceable trust that comes with the cohesion.

This is important for how you organise your daily working life (make sure your team is cohesive) :-) but may also explain why some communities have less trouble than others to overcome disaster experiences. Continue reading

Postdoctoral fellowship

postdoctoral research fellowWe have a short – but great :-) – postdoctoral research position coming up.

It’s for 6 months, open to Australian and international applicants (please spread the word!), with an expected start mid-January 2014.

 

The job will have two main parts:

1. Participation in a study on parent-child communication in daily life in a community sample of families with 3 to 16 year old children. This study makes use of the Electronically Activated Recorder (EAR) methodology to audiorecord snippets of families’ interactions at home. The fellow will be involved in data collection, transcription/coding, data-analysis, and manuscript writing.

2. Development of new projects and grant applications. Ideally, the fellow has experience and expertise complementary to the lab’s so we can develop interesting new ideas together. Examples of topics we’re currently interested in (bold new ideas are very welcome too!):

  • family interactions and social support after trauma
  • global child mental health
  • psychological first aid for children
  • experiences of emergency professionals working with children
  • child refugee mental health
  • neuropsychological/biological aspects of mental health
  • the implementation of evidence based mental health care

We’re looking for someone with a PhD in a relevant area, e.g. child development, biological psychology, family studies, (global) mental health or implementation science.

Applications can be submitted through the Monash Jobs website. This is the full Position Description: Postdoctoral Research Fellow Trauma Recovery Lab. 

Traumatic events do not occur at random

Katie McLaughlinDr. Katie McLaughlin is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington.  She received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology and in Epidemiology and Public Health from Yale University in 2008.  Her research seeks to identify psychological and neurobiological mechanisms linking child trauma exposure to the onset of psychopathology in children and adolescents.

Today, Katie writes about what population-based data can tell us about trauma in U.S. children and adolescents.

The media is filled with stories about traumatized children and adolescents, such as the school shootings at Sandy Hook and Columbine. However, a range of more common traumatic events, such as accidents and caregiver maltreatment, receive less attention.  We sought to understand how common traumatic experiences are in the lives of U.S. youths by conducting a study examining trauma exposure and PTSD in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), a nationally-representative sample of 6,483 adolescents aged 13-17. This study is the largest population-based study examining trauma exposure and PTSD in U.S. youths, and the findings reveal trauma and PTSD are significant public health problems in this population.

Trauma Exposure is Pervasive among U.S. Youths

A majority of U.S. youths have experienced a traumatic event by the time they reach adolescence.  Sixty-two percent of teenagers have experienced at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, including interpersonal violence, serious injuries, natural disasters and death of a loved one, and 19 percent have experienced three or more such events.  The prevalence of trauma exposure among children and adolescents is nearly as high as the prevalence in adults based on similar population-based studies.

Traumatic Events do not Occur at Random Continue reading