Psychiatry - Research Publications

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    Vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress or simply burnout? Effect of trauma therapy on mental health professionals
    Devilly, GJ ; Wright, R ; Varker, T (INFORMA HEALTHCARE, 2009-01-01)
    OBJECTIVES: The aim of the present study was to perform an assessment for secondary traumatic stress (STS), vicarious trauma (VT) and workplace burnout for Australian mental health professionals involved in clinical practice. METHODS: Recruited directly by mail, randomly selected participants were invited to submit a questionnaire by post or online. Of the 480 participants contacted, 152 mental health professionals completed the questionnaire, which contained measures of STS, VT and burnout. RESULTS: Exposure to patients' traumatic material did not affect STS, VT or burnout, contradicting the theory of the originators of STS and VT. Rather, it was found that work-related stressors best predicted therapist distress. CONCLUSIONS: These findings have significant implications for the direction of research and theory development in traumatic stress studies, calling into question the existence of secondary trauma-related phenomena and enterprises aimed at treating the consultants.
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    Changes in long term neural connectivity following psychological trauma
    Cook, F ; Ciorciari, J ; Varker, T ; Devilly, GJ (ELSEVIER IRELAND LTD, 2009-02-01)
    OBJECTIVE: Neural connectivity differences between adults reporting childhood, adulthood or no history of trauma were examined. METHODS: A total of 39 participants completed the Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS; Foa EB. Post-traumatic Stress Diagnostic Scale (PDS) Manual. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems, 1995), a Word Memory Task (WMT; [McNally RJ, Metzger LJ, Lasko NB, Clancy SA, Pitman RK. Directed forgetting of trauma cues in adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse with and without post-traumatic stress disorder. J Abnorm Psychol 1998;107:596-601]) and EEG analysis. Intelligence was not assessed during the study. RESULTS: As predicted, those with childhood trauma had significantly higher EEG coherence than those with either adulthood trauma or no past trauma. CONCLUSIONS: Significant differences were observed over frontal, central, temporal and parietal areas. Evidence was found suggesting that childhood psychological trauma may have a lasting impact on neuronal connectivity. SIGNIFICANCE: This is the first study to demonstrate the suspected long term effect of trauma over central, temporal and parietal areas. Long term neural correlates of childhood and adult trauma appear to suggest information processing differences--differences that may, eventually, lead to better interventions following trauma.