Project 1

Effectiveness of the WHO’s low-intensity psychosocial interventions for refugees

Background: Early trials show promising results for the use of low-intensity psychological interventions (LIPIs). The effectiveness of LIPIs in preventing psychological distress among refugees however, has yet to be systematically examined. Research Project 1 will build on the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support's (PS Centre's) need to progress the World Health Organization’s (WHO) LIPIs for use with refugee populations.

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of the WHO’s LIPI, as delivered by the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support's mid-level cadres, within the EU’s refugee crisis response.

Methods: Effectiveness of the LIPI for refugees will be assessed through comparing the psychological evaluations of refugees who have received the LIPI to those who have not at 3, 6, and 9-month follow-up in post-conflict settings.

Secondments: The fellow will register in Trinity College Dublin from January 2017-March 2018, receive additional training in Spirasi from April 2018-July 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in the IFRC Reference Centre for Psychosocial Support, hosted by the Danish Red Cross, from August 2018-January 2020. The ESR might also be required to travel to post-conflict settings for data collection purposes. The PhD degree will be awarded from Trinity College Dublin.

Innovation: The fellow will contribute to determining the efficacy of ‘task-shifting’ as a low-cost, WHO-endorsed intervention, to mid-level cadres as an innovative solution for the human capital shortage for refugee response in the EU and within the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies.

Deliverables: (4.1) Conduct a systematic review of low-intensity psychological interventions. (4.2) Develop a protocol for Red Cross volunteers using LIPIs.

Apply for Project 1 here


Project 2

Measuring the psychosocial vulnerability of newly landed asylum seekers

Background: While the WHO recommends the use of a triage system for health conditions on arrival for asylum seekers. There is an absence of a scientifically validated method of assessing psychosocial vulnerability of newly landed asylum seekers.

Objective: Develop and validate a psychosocial vulnerability screening tool for asylum seekers that can be used throughout the EU and assess how psychosocial vulnerabilities predict mental health outcomes.

Methods: Latent variable modelling will be used to validate the new psychosocial vulnerability scale.

Secondments: The fellow will register in Ulster University from January 2017-March 2018, receive additional training in Trinity College Dublin from April 2018-July 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in Spirasi from August 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from Ulster University.

Innovation: The newly developed scale will be freely available throughout the EU, will provide practitioners a method of triaging psychologically vulnerable asylum seekers entering the EU, and will provide a validated method of measuring changes in psychosocial vulnerability throughout the asylum process, contributing to our understanding of how vulnerability predicts later mental health outcomes.

Deliverables: (4.3) Conduct a systematic review identifying psychosocial vulnerabilities that most strongly predict mental health outcomes. (4.4) Develop a cross-culturally valid Vulnerability Assessment Tool for refugees.

Apply for Project 2 here


Project 3

Complex PTSD among asylum seekers and refugees who are victims of sexual violence

Background: In 2018, the WHO will introduce a new trauma-based diagnosis to the scientific nomenclature: ‘Complex PTSD’ (CPTSD).  CONTEXT participants have been at the forefront of research assessing the validity of CPTSD however the scientific integrity of CPTSD as a unique diagnostic construct remains unknown. 

Objective: Assess the validity of CPTSD among asylum seeking and refugee populations who have experienced sexual violence, and identify key etiological factors for the development of CPTSD. 

Methods: Apply latent variable modelling to test the validity of CPTSD as a diagnostic entity, and to identify the critical predictors of CPTSD. 

Secondments: The fellow will register in Ulster University from January 2017-March 2018, receive additional training in Spirasi from April 2018-July 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre from August 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from Ulster University.

Innovation: Research Project 3 will contribute critical evidence to the on-going WHO developments for CPTSD as a unique diagnostic entity, while also identifying key factors that lead to its development. Research Project 3 will also yield innovative screening tools and targeted treatment options for refugees and asylum seekers exposed to sexual violence.

Deliverables: (4.5) Identification of key etiological factors in the development of CPTSD. (4.6) Develop a training package for the identification of predictive factors of CPTSD among refugees who have experienced sexual violence.

Apply for Project 3 here


Intergenerational trauma among refugees: preventing the transmission of trauma from parent to child

Background: Psychological distress associated with trauma is communicable from one generation to the next, however the mechanisms by which this occurs is less well understood. A concern for the EU is to prevent trauma experienced by parents being transmitted to subsequent generations.

Objective: Explore how parent-child communication can inhibit intergenerational transmission of trauma-based psychological distress.

Methods: Observational and psychological assessment methods will be employed to study the effects of parent-child communication on intergenerational transmission of distress.

Secondment: The fellow will register in the University of Southern Denmark from January 2017-March 2018, and conduct their non-academic placement in Spirasi from April 2018-January 2020. The PhD degree will be awarded from the University of Southern Denmark.

Innovation: Research Project 4 will explore the specific parent-child mechanisms that prevent or exacerbate the transmission of trauma-related distress from parent to child. Recommendations will be made to directly inform current treatment programmes of individuals who have a history of torture and who have been recently reunited with their children.

Deliverables: (4.7) Identification of strategies to prevent the parent-to-child transmission of trauma for asylum seekers who are survivors of torture. (4.8) Evidence-based recommendations for the treatment of individuals with a history of torture and that have recently been reunited with their children.

Apply for Project 4 here

Project 4