Post Traumatic Stress Disorder research part of MCW/VA collaboration

May 23, 2014 College News - The Medical College of Wisconsin and the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center are collaborating to improve the lives of those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD affects approximately 6.8% of American citizens with considerably higher rates among Veterans. For example, rates of PTSD in returning Veterans is estimated to be between 11 – 22%. Sadie E. Larsen, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, is conducting research at the VA to increase understanding of PTSD in order to improve treatment.

For one project, Dr. Larsen is collaborating with Dr.  Maria Pacella, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR), to examine the effect of stressful events which do not technically qualify as “trauma.” Combining data across multiple studies, they are examining whether these events - such as the sudden loss of a relationship or a serious but not life-threatening illness or accident – may also contribute to post traumatic stress symptoms.

As part of another project, Dr. Larsen and a team of researchers from the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies published a paper identifying rates of PTSD in children and adolescents following trauma. This research identified higher rates of PTSD following events that are interpersonal in nature (e.g. abuse vs. natural disaster). This research will help contribute to a better understanding of the development of PTSD.

Dr. Larsen also is collaborating with researchers at the VA and MCW – including Gordon Telford, MD, Heather Smith, PhD, and Terri DeRoon-Cassini, PhD – to examine the effect of surgery and anesthesia on Veterans with PTSD. Such Veterans may have some exacerbation of symptoms following anesthesia. This project is currently a clinical collaboration but may become a research study if findings indicate a need.

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