Worldwide, 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
Dr. 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
Do not use psychological debriefing when a child has been exposed to a traumatic event such as assault or a major car crash.
And when you treat a child who has developed Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) due to trauma, do not use pharmacotherapy either (that is, not as a first line treatment).
Rather, apply the principles of psychological first aid in the direct aftermath of trauma and use trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy to treat PTSD.
These recommendations come from the brand new, very extensive Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of ASD and PTSD. For the first time, the guidelines include separate sections on children and adolescents.
How are the guidelines developed?
The guidelines are mainly informed by a systematic review of the literature and a staged process of expert consensus. People affected by trauma, clinicians and the public have also had varying levels of input. Continue reading
This 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
Imagine: you have just received a request to assess the mental health needs of the survivors of a large-scale disaster. What are your major challenges: Logistics? Resources? Communication? Getting an overview of who is in the area, who has been assessed, and who still needs to be? And if needs are identified, getting the appropriate services in place?
Probably all of the above. In addition, it may be dangerous to enter the disaster area altogether, for example due to radiation risk.
Therefore, wouldn’t it help if you could conduct needs assessments via social networks like Facebook? If these give the same information as face-to-face interviews that you would conduct otherwise, it would be worthwhile as a low-cost-low-risk approach.
A research team from Israel set out to test whether a Facebook sample and a traditional face-to-face sample would show differences in mental health and disaster-related data after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Continue reading