Traumatic Injury Research

Project Details

This program of research began in 2003 in a collaboration between Phoenix Australia and The Alfred Hospital in a study that investigated the mental health outcomes of survivors of injury. The success of this study resulted in two publications in the prestigious American Journal of Psychiatry, and a NHMRC Career Development Award. This study led to the establishment of a large multi-site cohort study in collaboration with University of New South Wales, University of Adelaide and University of Melbourne. The study has followed over 1000 injury survivors over 10 years being funded by consecutive NHMRC Program Grants. We have published over 70 peer review papers in the area of mental health and injury.

Central themes to this research has been the investigation of the types of psychiatric conditions that develop in the aftermath of injury, their phenomenology, trajectory and relationship with disability. The longitudinal nature of the cohort has allowed us to investigate acute responses and chronic responses and to examine the factors that contribute to poor recovery.

As part of this research we developed a self report screening instrument that allows us to identify injury patients in the acute hospital at risk of developing psychiatric disorders after discharge. This screening instrument has been translated in to over 7 languages and has become an important part of discharge planning in many injury services.

Central to this program of injury research is our work in early intervention. We have developed a stepped screening process that has been tested in a number of studies and we have conducted two randomised control trials that have tested the efficacy of cognitive behavioural therapy as an early intervention. The interventions trialled have taken a transdiagnostic approach which is looking very promising in the prevention and treatment of mental health disorders that develop in the aftermath of injury. Other intervention studies have investigated psychological interventions following traumatic brain injuries.


Associate Professor Meaghan O'Donnell,

Professor David Forbes

Dr Winnie Lau, Senior Research Fellow

Dr Nathan Alkemade, Research Fellow

Dr Tracey Varker, Research Fellow

Dr Katherine Chisholm, Research Assistant

Dr Rachel Brand, Research Assistant


Professor Richard Bryant - University of New South Wales

Professor Derrick Silove - University of New SOuth Wales

Professor Alexander McFarlane- University of Adelaide

Professor Mark Creamer - University of Melbourne

Professor Kim Felmingham - University of Tasmania

Professor Gin Marley - University of Sydney

Professor Steven Ellen - the Alfred Hospital

Professor Jennie Ponsford - Monash University

Associate Professor Alexander Holmes - the Royal Melbourne Hospital


  • NHMRC Program Grant (1073041)

Research Outcomes

There have been over 70 publications from this program of research - a selection of which have been listed below.

Research Publications

  1. O’Donnell, ML ., Alkemade, N., Creamer, M., Silove, D., McFarlane, A., Bryant, RA., &. Forbes, D. (in press - May 2015). The long term psychiatric sequelae of severe injury: a six year follow-up study. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
  2. O’Donnell, M.L., Grant, G., Alkemade, N., Spittal, M., Creamer, M., Silove, D., McFarlane, A., Bryant, R.A.,  Forbes, D., Studdert, D.M. (2105): Compensation seeking and disability after injury: The role of compensation-related stress and mental health. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 76, 8, e1000-e1005.
  3. Forbes, D., Lockwood, E., Creamer, M., Bryant, R.A., McFarlane, A.C., Silove, D., Nickerson, A., O’Donnell, M. (2015): Latent structure of the proposed ICD-11 posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms: implications for the diagnostic algorithm. British Journal of Psychiatry, 206(3), 245-251.
  4. O’Donnell, M.L., Alkemade, N., Nickerson, A., Creamer, M., McFarlane, A., Silove, D., Bryant, R.A., Forbes, D. (2014): The impact of the diagnostic changes to posttraumatic stress disorder for DSM-5 and the proposed changes to ICD-11.  British Journal of Psychiatry, 205, 230-235.
  5. Grant, G., O’Donnell, M.L., Spittal, M, Creamer, M., Studdert, D. (2014): Relationship between stressfulness of claiming for injury compensation and long-term recovery: a prospective cohort study.  JAMA Psychiatry, 71(4), 446-453.
  6. O’Donnell, M.L., Varker, T., Holmes, A.C., Ellen, S., Wade, D., Creamer, M., Silove, D., McFarlane, A., Bryant, R.A.,  Forbes, D. (2013): Disability after injury: The cumulative burden of physical and mental health.  Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 72(2), 137-143.
  7. O’Donnell, M.L., Lau, W., Tipping, S., Holmes, A., Ellen, S., Judson, R., Varker, T., Elliott, P., Bryant, R., Creamer, M., Forbes, D.  (2012): Stepped early psychological intervention for posttraumatic stress disorder, other anxiety disorders and depression following serious injury. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25, 125-133.
  8. Bryant, R.A., O’Donnell, M.L., Creamer, M., Silove, D., McFarlane, A.C. (2010): The psychiatric sequelae of traumatic injury.  American Journal of Psychiatry, 167, 312-320.
  9. O'Donnell, M.L., Creamer, M., Parslow, R., Elliott, P., Holmes, A., Ellen, S., Judson, R., McFarlane, A., Silove, D., Bryant, R. A. (2008): A predictive screening instrument for posttraumatic stress disorder and depression following traumatic injury. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 923-932.
  10. O'Donnell, M.L., Creamer, M., Pattison, P. (2004): PTSD and depression following trauma: Understanding comorbidity.  American Journal Psychiatry, 161, 1-7.
  11. O'Donnell, M.L., Creamer, M., Pattison, P., Atkin, C. (2004): Psychiatric morbidity following injury. American Journal Psychiatry, 161, 507-514.

Research Group

Trauma Research Group

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


Unit / Centre

Trauma Research Group

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