International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies

2005 CITRM Conference Highlights Include Shalev’s Plenary Address, Unique Sessions, Workshops

Posted 1 July 2005 in StressPoints by Daniel King and Lynda King, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The 2nd Annual Conference on Innovations in Trauma Research Methods (CITRM) will be held November 6–7, 2005, at the Radisson Admiral Harbourfront Hotel in Toronto, a short distance from the ISTSS conference site. The theme for CITRM 2005 is Longitudinal Methods in Trauma Research.

Highlighting the conference will be a plenary address by Arieh Shalev, professor and chair of the Department of Psychiatry, Hebrew University and Hadassah School of Medicine, and the founding director of the Centre for Traumatic Stress at the Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem. Shalev has been one of the leading figures in longitudinal research on stress disorders since 1989. With colleagues, he has studied a wide range of problems in traumatic stress using longitudinal approaches, including, among other topics, the course of early symptoms, the psychophysiology of evolving PTSD, and genetic markers of persistent PTSD symptoms. His presentation will overview the history of longitudinal studies in trauma research, outline some of the important findings and address the concerns we face in using longitudinal approaches, from the most obvious (sampling and attrition) to the more subtle yet cardinal issues of modeling, analyses, interpretation of findings, inferences and generalizability.

The Dissection of Innovative Methods session will be led by Eve Carlson, psychologist with the Education and Clinical Laboratory Division of the National Center for PTSD, Palo Alto, California. This special session, intended to introduce a novel or creative approach to trauma research, will focus on the use of hand-held computers, also known as PDAs, in the prospective examination of emergency room trauma victims, using an ecological proximity approach (EPA). EPA means that subjects provide information about symptoms, mood and other trauma-associated states on a multiple-times-per-day basis, thus avoiding the problems of distant recall that may occur with the usual interview or self-report instruments. PDAs thus offer a unique opportunity to identify individual variations and courses through recovery or illness development. At CITRM, Carlson will speak on the broad utility of EPA research and on many of the practical problems involved in implementing PDA-based design, including selecting the appropriate number and spacing of time points, challenges in adapting existing hardware and software, and how to encourage subjects to adhere to data collection.

John Graham, professor of Biobehavioral Health and Human Development and Family Studies, and a senior member of the staff at The Methodology Center, The Pennsylvania State University, will present a workshop on planned incomplete data designs for longitudinal research. Dr. Graham is a prominent methodologist who has contributed to the literatures on structural equation modeling, measurement and survey design, and, especially, strategies involving missing or incomplete data. Borrowing from some of Graham’s earlier and current work, the argument is made that planned missingness or incomplete designs can help researchers conserve resources (e.g., time, money) and place a lesser burden on the individual research participant (and perhaps reduce attrition), while at the same time retain information and optimize power for data analysis.

John McArdle, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and co-director of the Longitudinal Research Institute, Charlottesville, Virginia, will join Daniel King and Lynda King, professors of psychology and psychiatry, Boston University and VA Boston Healthcare System, in a session to place the longitudinal study of trauma sequelae within a context borrowed from development and aging research. McArdle, an authority on the analysis of dynamic change, has been in the vanguard in applying structural equation modeling to the analysis of growth and change in life-span development and aging research. He continues to offer unique contributions to the analysis of dynamic change. In this session, McArdle, Dan King and Lynda King will emphasize a latent difference score approach, and how it can be translated and applied to practical issues faced by researchers in stress, trauma and PTSD.

Other CITRM sessions are being planned. Visit www.citrm.org for further information on the conference program, as well as details about registration and accommodations in Toronto. CITRM’s Underrepresented Researchers’ Travel Stipend Program and application guidelines also are described on the Web site.

CITRM is made possible by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, with supplementary funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD; additional support is provided by the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center (MAVERIC).