From Trauma to Recovery – A blog post on the 35th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) in Boston

Curious to know what the recent ISTSS conference was all about? Many thanks to Yoki Mertens for this reflection on the meeting! 

It is early morning in a freezing-cold Boston and Judith Herman presents as the first keynote speaker of the 35th Annual Meeting of the International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS). One might assume the organizers scheduled it this way to ensure everybody arrives on time and it worked: The room is filled with over 1,700 attendees, more than ever before. It’s been 27 years since Judith Herman published her renowned book “Trauma and Recovery” and introduced the concept of complex PTSD. Back then, the New York Times called it “one of the most important psychiatric works to be published since Freud”.

The prevailing question of this annual meeting is: How far has trauma research, trauma therapy, and policies come in helping individuals with (complex) PTSD recover in the past decades? And which paths to take to move forward? After three days of attending symposia, panels, and poster sessions, it can be convincingly stated that steep progress has been made. Meanwhile, some challenges are left to be solved for the current generation of trauma researchers and clinicians. Continue reading

Moving from universal to selective prevention: results of a web-based early intervention for PTSD

Joanne MouthaanThis is a post by Joanne Mouthaan. As a PhD candidate, Joanne conducted a large prospective longitudinal trial of mental health in traumatic injury patients in Amsterdam. Now in the final stage of her thesis, she is working as a lecturer at the Department of Clinical and Health Psychology of Leiden University, The Netherlands.

Our team’s goal is to gain more insight into a) the incidence and development of mental health problems after injury, b) possible bio/psycho/social factors contributing to these problems, and c) prevention of mental health problems by intervening early. From 2005 to 2010, we recruited approximately 900 patients from two level-1 trauma centers (the Academic Medical Center and the VU University Medical Center). Regarding the issue of prevention, we developed a web-based early psychological intervention called Trauma TIPS, the main subject of this post.

Traumatic injury and PTSD

Around the world, traumatic injury is one of the most common traumatic events, accounting for 9% of global mortality. Because of its high incidence, injuries cause millions of people to experience (temporary or permanent) disabilities on a yearly basis, including mental health problems (see http://www.who.int/topics/injuries/en/). PTSD develops in 10-20% of injury patients. Therefore, prevention of PTSD has been mentioned by some as the holy grail of trauma research. Continue reading