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Technology has been integrated into research and clinical services for traumatic stress populations for decades. However, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in an exponential shift to virtual work for many researchers, clinicians and health care providers as they continued to enroll participants in ongoing research, engage patients in trauma-informed mental health services, or conduct other day-to-day responsibilities. This global health crisis presented a critical need for mental health service systems to make digital health resources available and accessible to individuals following traumatic events.

Digital health technologies have the potential to enhance the scalability of trauma-focused interventions. Nearly 85% of the adult U.S. population owns a smartphone (Pew Research Center, 2021) and most mobile phone users have downloaded at least one mHealth app (Krebs & Duncan, 2015). Individuals in need of mental health care following traumatic events face traditional (e.g., stigma, scheduling, transportation) and unique challenges (e.g., competing appointments, physical recovery, occupational and academic needs) to seeking appropriate services. Smartphone use is ubiquitous and offers one potential solution to overcome these barriers and increase service access to trauma-affected populations. However, mHealth tools only serve as one technology-enhanced mental health service delivery method. In addition, more than 50 health care systems in the United States have existing programs capable of incorporating various telehealth technologies to maintain care (Hollander & Carr, 2020) and were able to adapt to the increased demands for virtual care. This includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which has been providing telehealth and telemental health for more than two decades and currently stands as the largest health care agency in the U.S. providing telehealth care (Godleski, Darkins, & Peters, 2012). Other digital health technology solutions include web-based psychoeducational and self-guided interventions, electronic visits (e-visits), and SMS symptom self-monitoring services (e.g., Bunnell et al., 2019). Ideally, such resources must be (1) evidence-based, (2) scalable and cost-efficient and (3) able to be seamlessly integrated into trauma care. Additional research is warranted at the intersection of digital health solutions and implementation science to help ensure that cost-effective, sustainable, scalable technology-enhanced interventions reach the traumatic stress populations that need them most. We hope this SIG can function as a forum to promote discussion around this important area of research while also sharing innovative findings led by our SIG members on the interplay between trauma and technology-facilitated solutions. 

Internet & Technology (I&T)/Trauma & Technology SIG Initiatives

Many of us are using technology and digital health tools in our work with traumatic stress populations, whether we are researchers, health providers or both. The I&T SIG aims to present and discuss ways to use technology-facilitated resources to enhance access to and quality of care for individuals impacted by traumatic events. Drs. Leigh Ridings and Ursula Myers, the SIG co-chairs, use telehealth to provide evidence-based trauma treatments to their respective patient populations and conduct research to assess (1) how to best integrate technology into trauma treatments, (2) for whom these technologies are most effective, and (3) best methods to disseminate and implement these solutions to improve reach to the patients who need them most.

Technology-based tools are constantly evolving and developing at a rapid pace. As such, we hope to reignite the I&T SIG to meet the needs of researchers and providers who use, or are interested in using, technology with trauma populations. The chairs of this SIG propose to rename the group from the “Internet & Technology SIG” to the “Trauma & Technology SIG” to better align with the group’s goals.

Our next initiative is to create a resource page for SIG members to access useful information for both research on virtual care (e.g., reviews of survey tools such as REDCap and Qualtrics, measures to study digital tools and user experience, using social media to recruit for studies) as well as for clinical practice (e.g., telehealth and billing tip sheets, information on different platforms to use for virtual appointments with and without electronic health record systems). In addition, we are looking to create a SIG-specific Slack channel to facilitate collaboration among members. 

Call for SIG Member Engagement

As we work to reignite this SIG, we are looking not only for new members to join, but also for current members to play an active role in discussions, resource sharing and collaboration. Whether you are a provider using technology to deliver services to traumatic stress populations, a provider interested in using technology to enhance service access for your clients, an investigator using innovative research methods to better understand individuals’ needs following traumatic events, or some combination of these roles, the Trauma & Technology SIG is an ideal group to help promote your clinical and research goals. Individuals interested in technology-facilitated intervention development and dissemination, such as mobile health applications and telehealth technologies, may particularly benefit from engagement in this group.

The missions of the Trauma & Technology SIG are to (1) Foster collaboration between clinicians and/or investigators interested in using technology to advance the field of traumatic stress; (2) Create a “hub” for technology-related publications, measures, and other tools to advance our understanding of trauma prevalence, risk and protective factors, assessment, prevention, and treatment; and (3) Promote SIG members’ research advancements and clinically focused contributions to the intersection of technology solutions and traumatic stress. We look forward to increased engagement of active SIG members and engagement of new members as we advance the missions of this SIG.

Call for the Trauma & Technology SIG Student Chair Position

Are you a student interested in digital health care for trauma populations and looking for a leadership role? The position of Trauma & Technology SIG Student Chair is open and ready to be filled! This is a great opportunity for a post-baccalaureate or graduate student looking for a leadership role and to bolster your CV. If interested, please contact the SIG co-chairs.

How to Join This SIG

If you are interested in joining the revived Trauma & Technology SIG (previously the Internet & Technology SIG):

  1. Log in and go to your ISTSS member profile.
  2. Go to the Listserves/Communities tab and select the SIGs you want to join from the dropdown.
  3. Scroll down and click “next,” then “save changes.”

About the Authors

Leigh E. Ridings, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and assistant professor at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). She is co-chair of the ISTSS Trauma & Technology SIG. Dr. Ridings’ research aims to develop, rigorously test, and scale innovative, cost-efficient, evidence-based health technology resources to improve access and quality of care for trauma-impacted children and their caregivers in real-world settings. Dr. Ridings serves as the Associate Director for Child and Family Services of the Trauma Resilience and Recovery Program at MUSC, a stepped care, behavioral health service for individuals hospitalized for traumatic injuries. She is the PI of numerous mixed-methods grants designed to increase quality of and access to services for trauma populations, including a NICHD K23 to develop and test the feasibility of a technology-enhanced intervention to accelerate the emotional and behavioral recovery of caregivers of traumatically injured children under age 12. Dr. Ridings also serves as co-investigator on a NIMH R01 to finalize and disseminate a tablet-based toolkit to improve engagement and fidelity in delivery of an evidence-based child trauma intervention.
Ursula S. Myers, PhD, is a research assistant professor in psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), associate director of the Telehealth Research Collaborative funded through VA Health Services Research and Development, and clinical psychologist in the PTSD clinic at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center (VAMC). Dr. Myers’ research and clinical interests are focused on utilizing telehealth to improve psychotherapy engagement, retention, and treatment- and cost-effectiveness for veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related issues. Dr. Myers is principal investigator on multiple mixed-methods grants examining the different aspects of telemental health care. Dr. Myers has published over 25 papers examining mental health issues with veterans and is the recipient of a number of awards including the John C. Roitzsch Memorial Scientist-Practitioner Award and the MUSC Clinical Psychology Internship Consortium Best Supervisor Award.


Bunnell, B. E., Davidson, T. M., Winkelmann, J. R., Maples-Keller, J. L., Ridings, L. E., Dahne, J., Fakhry, S., & Ruggiero, K. J. (2019). Implementation and utility of an automated text messaging system to facilitate symptom self-monitoring and identify risk for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression in trauma center patients. Telemedicine and e-Health, 25, 1198-1206.
Godleski, L., Darkins, A., & Peters, J. (2012). Outcomes of 98,609 US Department of Veterans Affairs patients enrolled in telemental health services, 2006–2010. Psychiatric Services, 63(4), 383-385.
Hollander, J. E., & Carr, B. G. (2020). Virtually perfect? Telemedicine for COVID-19. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(18), 1679-1681.
Krebs P, Duncan DT. Health App Use Among US Mobile Phone Owners: A National Survey. JMIR mHealth and uHealth. 2015;3(4):e101.
Pew Research Center, 2021. Mobile Fact Sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/mobile/ Accessed June 20, 2021.