International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

1996 ISTSS Membership Survey

Posted 1 January 1997 in StressPoints by John Fairbank, PhD, Lori Ebert, and Arthur Bonito,

As part of the ISTSS Board of Directors' efforts to plan for the organization's future a questionnaire was developed to examine the membership's views on important issues, most notably ISTSS activities and the substantive areas represented in its journal and annual meeting.

Mailed in mid-April to 1,800 ISTSS members, the survey garnered 528 responses (29.3 percent of the members). Based on demographic data - years of membership in the organization, gender, nationality and highest attained degree - survey respondents were a good representation of the overall membership.

Results suggest that ISTSS members attach different values to the organization's various activities. The activities that a majority of members deemed essential or very important, are (1) sharing research findings and practice innovations at the annual meeting, (2) developing and disseminating information to providers, (3) providing networking opportunities and (4) serving as an educational resource to the public at large.

The membership also expressed preferences for areas where greater attention should be paid in the Journal of Traumatic Stress and at the annual meetings. Three areas which the membership clearly feels deserve greater emphasis, based on a majority of the respondents rating them as being essential or very important, are (1) child abuse, (2) urban violence and (3) child development.

The survey also tried to ascertain members' opinions about ISTSS aggressively attempting to increase the size of its membership. More than a third (37.1 percent) of respondents do not support such an expansion effort. Many individuals expressed a preference for a more gradual process of growth in which qualified people, mainly involved in trauma research or treatment, are attracted to the organization by its excellence and benefits. Additionally, two-thirds of the membership favored collaborative arrangements with professional organizations that have substantive interest in traumatic stress.

These and survey findings will guide the Board and ISTSS membership as they plan strategically for the organization's future.