Understanding cognitive difficulties after long-term stress in Canterbury

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Status: In-progress
Year: 2020
Funded: $212,928
Grant Type: Private: Special Funding Grant
Mental Health

Cantabrians have experienced significant stress related to the Canterbury earthquake sequence. Our previous research has shown significant cognitive difficulties in a group of Cantabrians exposed to high levels of earthquake trauma. A high proportion (30%) perceive themselves to have significant cognitive difficulties, even seven years post-earthquake. People who perceive that they have cognitive difficulties find this distressing and tend to function less well in work and parenting. Understanding pathways underlying cognitive difficulties in the population is vital for developing appropriate treatments and strategies to help with this.

This will be the first study to investigate rates of, and factors contributing to, cognitive difficulties in a large population exposed to multiple stressors and is important for the population of Canterbury, and populations affected by natural and man-made disasters worldwide.

Four hundred and sixty people who were exposed to the Canterbury earthquake sequence will be recruited from the Christchurch Health and Development Study. Psychological, cognitive and functional factors will be compared between those with the greatest levels of perceived cognitive difficulty and those with the lowest levels of difficulty. This will determine what factors relate most strongly to cognitive difficulties, which will in turn be used to develop treatments for this population.

Researcher // Dr Katie Douglas – University of Otago

Katie is a Senior Research Fellow and a Registered Clinical Psychologist. In the past five years, Katie has been awarded six research grants as Principal Investigator. Over the same time period, she has been a named co-investigator on six funded research projects. Katie has extensive experience in clinical trial methodology and is currently involved in several clinical trials.

More About Dr Katie Douglas

Related article: New research to study ongoing ‘quake brain’ impact on Cantabrians

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