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Trauma Blog

Get the latest information on traumatic stress from a diverse group of experts in the field. The ISTSS Trauma Blog highlights the perspectives of clinicians, researchers and other professionals and students working to understand, prevent and treat trauma across the globe. View the latest articles below, or search for specific articles by keyword, topic or date.   

Instructions for submitting a trauma blog can be found here.

Assessment and Psychometrics


Researchers find a score of 27 or greater on the Moral Injury and Distress Scale (MIDS) identifies clinically meaningful and impairing moral injury.

Clinical Issues and Treatment

Prolonged exposure therapy has been a leading first-line treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder over the past decades. In this blog post, innovators of prolonged exposure review the state of the science and directions for the future. 



As we enter the fourth year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pandemic’s impact on population mental health is of uncertain magnitude and duration (Manchia et al., 2022), but evidence from numerous surveys indicate adverse outcomes for girls and women (Sun et al., 2023), gender minority individuals (Nowaskie & Roesler, 2022), individuals with physical health problems (Robinson et al., 2022), older adults, and children and adolescents (Zolopa et al., 2022). A particularly vulnerable group, despite having a high level of resilience, are healthcare workers and organizations, and the mental/behavioral health impact on medical, nursing and other physical healthcare providers is well recognized (e.g., Ford et al., 2022; Hannemann et al., 2022; Sahebi et al., 2021). However, the toll on mental/behavioral health and human services providers has not been systematically evaluated, with only two surveys to date. One, conducted in 2020 with 110 psychotherapists from the United Kingdom, identified burnout as prevalent (Kotera et al., 2021). The second, a survey of child/adolescent, couples and family therapists in Canada (N=1280 in July 2020; 905 in June 2021), found that therapists reported better mental health than the general population but increasing difficulties with sleep, anxiety, sadness, irritability and mood swings in 2021 compared to 2020 (Battam & Hilbrecht, 2021).

Diversity and Multicultural Issues

The increasing prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially during and after COVID-19, is a major public health crisis in the U.S., with a 16-25% prevalence of PTSD in youth (Murata et al., 2021). PTSD is associated with increased neurovascular inflammation, suicidality, adulthood mental health disorders, and major adverse life events (Ahmadi et al., 2020; Ahmadi et al., 2018). There has been a significant increase in the prevalence of PTSD and emergency room visits due to PTSD-related suicidality (Ahmadi et al., 2022; O'Rourke et al., 2023). Increased rates of suicidality in youth have been documented, escalating from 14.1% in 2016 to 30.5% in 2021, the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in California, for example (Lund et al., 2023). Childhood PTSD and related suicidality are a significant public health problem with serious health consequences to children, with an estimated public health cost of $103 billion annually (Ahmadi et al., 2018; Dolan & Mace, 2006; Gill et al., 2017; Oliveira et al., 2019). The lack of grief-enhanced trauma-informed early screening for PTSD and prolonged grief disorder (PGD) resulted in many individuals with PTSD going undiagnosed and not receiving early interventions.

International and Global

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. As a result, millions of people have been exposed to war and war-related trauma, and the world is witnessing an immense mental health crisis. Ukrainian mental health systems cannot address this crisis effectively alone, and the main reason is that mental health professionals in the country generally are not trained in evidence-based care for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related sequelae. A National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fogarty-funded project (1D43TW012463) recently started by Drs. Liberzon and Nickelsen aims to change that.

Military and Combat

PTSD is a common and disabling disorder that impacts many Veterans. This blog discusses our  new study examining how Veterans with PTSD respond to threat in fear and anxiety brain networks. The study findings extend the current understanding of the brain basis of PTSD to include both fear and anxiety networks and highlight new treatment targets. 



Student and Early Career



On November 1, 2023, another successful Paper in a Day (PiaD) was held at the ISTSS annual meeting in Los Angeles. The PiaD grew out of a wish to foster collaborations between young researchers from around the world. It is designed to stimulate international connections and the exchange of ideas by working on a tangible outcome: a paper, short communication or commentary for a peer-reviewed journal. The PiaD project aligns with FAIR data principles. The focus of this year’s PiaD was on potential gender differences in early post-trauma PTSD symptoms and symptom cluster networks.




Trauma and the Arts

During of a conversation with a children’s librarian I asked about her favorite books. Her top choice was, The War That Saved My Life, which turned out to be (with or without its sequel),  not only a beautifully told story, but a work that could be a supplemental text for a course on psychological trauma.