Epidemiology: A valuable way to study individual differences in risk and resiliency?

This guest post is by Odilia Laceulle. Odilia is finishing her PhD project at the Interdisciplinary Center for Psychiatric Epidemiology (UMC Groningen, with Prof. Ormel). She focuses on the influence of stressful life events on temperament and stress-reactivity during adolescence using data from the large cohort study TRAILS (TRacking Adolescents’ Individual Lifes Survey).

It is no surprise that many children and adolescents we see in clinical practice need help after being exposed to severe stress. However, not all children who are exposed to stress seek clinical help; some are able to cope with severe stress without therapy. But what defines the impact of severe stressors and who can cope with traumatic events and who cannot? And are all children at equal risk of getting exposed to these events, or can we distinguish factors that predict the likelihood of becoming a victim?  Continue reading

Trauma and PTSD researchers should tweet

Last week, I tried to compile a list of trauma and PTSD experts who are part of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies (ISTSS) or affiliated societies. It turned out that we have only a handful of active twitterers, while the societies have thousands of members. At the last annual ISTSS conference in November, we had only two people tweeting.

It’s a missed opportunity. Twitter is a fantastic tool to build a prospering research community (see e.g., Mollett et al., 2011; Reinhardt et al., 2009;). I’ll give you some examples:

While I was searching for tweeters for my list, @raulpacheco started the #myresearch hashtag, asking people to present their research topic or question in about 120 characters. It went viral. Moreover, it was highly informative, entertaining, and instantly led to new connections and exchanges between researchers all over the world. Marc Smith made a beautiful graph of it. Continue reading

Predictors of PTSD in children and adults

We know that traumatic events occur quite often. We also know that most people are resilient, even though many survivors experience some distress in the direct aftermath of an event. Only a minority will develop longer-term stress symptoms. What are their characteristics? Who is ‘at risk’ after trauma? If we know the answer, we can target mental health care services to the survivors who are most in need.

In the last 30 years, more and more research has been published on predictors of posttraumatic stress. Mainly in adults, but also in children. Continue reading

Top 5 online resources for children and parents after trauma, and more…

Set off by the tragic events in Norway in July 2011, I started a somewhat frantic search for websites on posttraumatic recovery designed for youths and parents.



The criteria: the information and tips should be 1) evidence-informed, 2) written for an audience of children/adolescents or parents, 3) easily accessible, 4) freely available, and preferably 5) interactive.

Those are tough criteria. There are not many resources that tick all the boxes, but they do exist.

My top 5 (biased by the languages I speak and some chauvinism…) is: Continue reading

Tips to help survivors of youth camp shooting in Norway

My thoughts go out to those in Norway who have been affected by the tragic events in the past days, both in Oslo and Utøya. I can’t imagine the scale of this tragedy, and wish survivors all the strength and time needed to come to terms with the experience and the loss of loved ones. When you are looking for information about helping the youngsters and their families involved, below are some links to resources.

Continue reading