A biosocial approach to trauma research


Project period: July – November 2016

GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Sarah Halligan
University of Bristol: Dr Abigail Fraser, Professor Stan Zammit
Cardiff University: Professor Stephanie Van Goozen
University of Exeter: Dr Anke Karl

Project overview

Individuals exposed to trauma, particularly childhood trauma, are among the most vulnerable members of our society and are disproportionately likely to experience educational failure, severe social difficulties, or to be in the criminal justice system.

Research has highlighted links between trauma exposure and numerous negative psychological outcomes, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), psychotic symptoms, conduct problems, depression and substance use; as well as adverse physical health outcomes such as increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Biological dysregulation, particularly in stress response systems, has been implicated in each of these adverse outcomes. However, research that takes a biosocial approach (i.e., studying the interaction of biological and social factors) to understanding the spectrum of trauma related negative health outcomes is limited.

The GW4 group includes researchers from different disciplines and methodologies, but each with an interest in trauma related adverse outcomes. Exploration of the synergy in terms of unifying underlying processes, including through engagement of a broader set of GW4 academics, is a major goal of the proposed collaboration.

The main objective of the award activity is to expand existing links to include further GW4 members, in order to generate a sustained network of collaboration with associated research outputs. Consistent with this, we will aim to outline proposals for two to five collaborative projects by the end of the funding period.