Research UPDATED - Research investigating the impact of trauma type on perceptions of defeat. Can you help us?

Study title: A study investigating the impact of trauma type on perceptions of defeat

NHS Ethics Approval number: 293056

Hi,

My name is Rachel Ashwick and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the University of Oxford.

As part of my doctorate, I am conducting a research study to find out more about how the type and number of traumas someone experiences affects their perception of feeling defeated and the severity of their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We are interested in hearing from people who have experienced a trauma, have symptoms of PTSD and have not yet had therapy for it. If you would like to take part, please go to the following link for more information and to complete the anonymous questionnaires: https://psychiatryoxford.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0CYNHj2tYPRMmfs. Or if you would like to speak to the researcher or get a paper copy of the results, please email me at [email protected]

Thank you very much for your time and your help with this!

Best wishes,

Rachel Ashwick.

Trainee Clinical Psychologist (Under the supervision of Professor Craig Steel)

Rachel Ashwick | Trainee Clinical Psychologist | Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust | University of Oxford | The Oxford Institute of Clinical Psychology Training and Research | The Oxford Centre for Psychological Health | Isis Education Centre | Warneford Hospital | Oxford | OX3 7JX

[email protected]
 
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Study title: A study investigating the impact of trauma type on perceptions of defeat

NHS Ethics Approval number: 293056

Hi,

My name is Rachel Ashwick and I am a Trainee Clinical Psychologist at the University of Oxford.

As part of my doctorate, I am conducting a research study to find out more about how the type and number of traumas someone experiences affects their perception of feeling defeated and the severity of their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We are interested in hearing from people who have experienced a trauma, have symptoms of PTSD and have not yet had therapy for it. If you would like to take part, please go to the following link for more information and to complete the anonymous questionnaires: https://psychiatryoxford.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0CYNHj2tYPRMmfs. Or if you would like to speak to the researcher or get a paper copy of the results, please email me at [email protected]

Thank you very much for your time and your help with this!

Best wishes,

Rachel Ashwick.

Trainee Clinical Psychologist (Under the supervision of Professor Craig Steel)

Rachel Ashwick | Trainee Clinical Psychologist | Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust | University of Oxford | The Oxford Institute of Clinical Psychology Training and Research | The Oxford Centre for Psychological Health | Isis Education Centre | Warneford Hospital | Oxford | OX3 7JX

[email protected]
Just to add... We are looking for people who meet the following study criteria:
- Are aged 18 or above
- Have experienced either interpersonal (caused by someone else) or non-interpersonal traumas (e.g. accidents, natural disasters) but not both
- Have symptoms of PTSD
- Have not yet started psychological treatment for their PTSD

Thank you to those who have completed it so far. I am very very grateful for your help :)
 
Hi everyone,

Thanks again to those who have taken part so far.

We noticed that participants had been attempting to take part in the study but were being excluded because they have had therapy for PTSD in the past. We have now removed this criteria so more people can take part.

If you attempted to take part before but were unable to complete the survey because of this, I would be so so grateful if you would kindly try again. I am sorry for this inconvenience and so thankful for your help!

Have a lovely day.

Rachel.
 
Hi all,

Thanks for your help with my survey. We are still looking for more participants to take part if you have time!

We haven't had many responses from people who have PTSD and have experienced:
- accidents
- injuries
- life-threatening illnesses
- been in natural disasters
- experienced the sudden accidental death of a loved one

If you have experienced these (or any other trauma), and would be able to help us that would be great.

Really grateful to you all. Have a good day!
 
The Role of Mental Defeat in Interpersonal and Non-interpersonal Traumas: Summary of findings

Why was the study done?

After experiencing a traumatic event, some individuals develop a condition called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), where they experience unwanted memories of the event, anxiety, avoidance, changes in their mood and thinking, and feeling on edge. Researchers have tried to explain why some people develop PTSD whereas others do not and why some people have worse symptoms.

So far, research shows that factors including the type of trauma and the number of traumas experienced may help explain these differences. In particular, traumas that have been purposefully caused by another individual (interpersonal traumas) appear to lead to worse symptoms of PTSD compared to natural or accidental traumas (non-interpersonal traumas). In addition, the more traumas someone experiences, the worse their symptoms are, and it is suggested that the more interpersonal traumas someone experiences, the greater the increase in their PTSD severity compared to non-interpersonal traumas.

We wanted to find out why interpersonal traumas and having experienced more traumas seem to worsen PTSD. Theories suggest that the way someone thinks about their trauma and its consequences can play an important role, but no studies had yet explored the impact of trauma type and the number of traumas on 'mental defeat'. Mental defeat is used to describe thoughts about having lost social status and a sense of identity resulting in feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.

Therefore, this study aimed to look at:

  • Whether mental defeat was higher in individuals who had experienced interpersonal traumas compared to those who had experienced non-interpersonal traumas
  • Whether mental defeat increased more as the number of interpersonal traumas increased in comparison to non-interpersonal traumas
  • Whether interpersonal traumas lead to higher mental defeat which then leads to greater PTSD symptoms.
How was the study carried out?

The study involved an anonymous online questionnaire advertised to participants through NHS services in Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and via mental health charities, online forums, and social media. Individuals who were over 18-years-old, reported experiencing only interpersonal or non-interpersonal traumas and who scored above 33 on a PTSD screening measure were able to take part. People who scored below 33 or who had experienced both trauma types were excluded. Those who took part completed questionnaires about the number and type of traumas they had experienced, the date of their most recent trauma, their PTSD symptoms, symptoms of mental defeat, age, sex and ethnicity.

What did the study find?

164 individuals took part in the online questionnaire; 60 had experienced only non-interpersonal traumas, and 104 had experienced only interpersonal traumas. We found that those who had experienced interpersonal traumas had higher levels of mental defeat than non-interpersonal traumas, even when we took into account other factors such as their sex, time since trauma and number of traumas. We also found that interpersonal traumas lead to higher levels of mental defeat and subsequently higher levels of PTSD symptoms than non-interpersonal traumas. Therefore, mental defeat could help explain the higher severity of symptoms in people with interpersonal trauma histories.

There were differences in the way that the number of traumas had been reported so we could not use this measure. Therefore, we looked at the number of different types of traumas people had experiences instead. We found that mental defeat did not increase as the number of different types of traumas increased for either of the groups. We also found no difference in the rate of increase between interpersonal and non-interpersonal traumas. Further research is needed in the future to find out more about how the number of traumas affect mental defeat and PTSD.

What are the limitations of the study?

The study was completed entirely online, which helped to provide anonymity and allow people to answer honestly. However, this meant that we were not able to use a gold-standard measure to confirm that participants met the criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD. The study also excluded a large number of people who had both types of trauma, which means it may not represent people presenting to services. The sample consisted of mainly white (91.6%) females (84.3%) and may not represent males or individuals from other ethnic backgrounds. In addition, the questionnaire was completed at one time point. Therefore, we have to be tentative in saying that interpersonal traumas increase mental defeat and then increase PTSD scores, as we cannot confirm the order in which these factors occurred.

Conclusions

People who have experienced traumas that have been purposefully caused by another person appear to experience higher levels of mental defeat than those who have experienced natural or accidental traumas. The higher levels of mental defeat in interpersonal traumas also appear to be linked to higher levels of PTSD symptoms. Mental defeat is an important factor for clinicians to assess for and treat when faced with clients with PTSD, particularly those who have experienced interpersonal traumas. These findings align with previous research and theories in the field of PTSD. Further research is needed to explore the means by which the number of traumas someone has experienced increases PTSD symptoms, and to see whether social support and cognitive behavioural therapy help to reduce thoughts of mental defeat. It is important for people with PTSD to seek therapy to help reduce their symptoms.
 
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