Latest journal articles from Phoenix Australia

Fletcher, S., O’Donnell, M., & Forbes, D. (in press). Personality and trajectories of posttraumatic psychopathology: A latent change modelling approach. Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

This study examined whether personality traits can help identify not only who is at risk of psychiatric disorder after a traumatic event, but the specific problems they are likely to experience. Three hundred and twenty-three adults completed a personality questionnaire during hospitalisation for physical injury, with three personality types identified. Over the next 12 months, each personality type showed a different pattern of disorder development. The results suggest that early intervention using a personality-based transdiagnostic approach may be an effective method of predicting and ultimately preventing much of the burden of posttraumatic disorder.


Forbes, D., O’Donnell, M., Brand, R., Korn, S., Creamer, M., McFarlane, A., Sim, M., Forbes, A., & Hawthorne, G. (2016). The long term mental health impact of peacekeeping: Prevalence and predictors of psychiatric disorder. British Journal of Psychiatry Open, 2(1), 32-37. doi: 10.1192/bjpo.bp.115.001321 

Military personnel deployed on peacekeeping missions may encounter stressful and potentially traumatic events, such as delivering humanitarian aid in dangerous environments, coming under hostile fire, and witnessing atrocities. It is important to understand the long term mental health impact of these experiences. We assessed 1,025 Australian veteran peacekeepers and compared them to a matched community (civilian) group. Thirty per cent of veteran peacekeepers had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder – significantly higher than the civilian group (12%). The most common disorder was posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), with 17% of peacekeepers meeting this diagnosis. Having a psychiatric disorder was most strongly predicted by exposure to potentially traumatic events. The levels of psychiatric disorder found in our peacekeeper group are similar to those seen following combat deployments. Given the increasing operational tempo in peacekeeping operations, it is important that the needs of peacekeepers are recognised by clinicians and within military mental health initiatives.


Wade, D., Varker, T., Kartal, D., Hetrick, S., O’Donnell, M., & Forbes, D. (2016). Gender difference in outcomes following trauma-focused interventions for posttraumatic stress disorder: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 8(3), 356-364.

Do women and men respond differently to trauma-focussed psychological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)? There is currently a lack of evidence to answer this question. This study, using the Cochrane Collaboration systematic review methodology, examined how gender influences people’s response to PTSD treatment. We conducted a literature review of randomised controlled trials comparing trauma-focussed interventions for PTSD with comparison conditions. We found evidence that at both post-intervention and short-term follow-up, women had greater reductions in clinician-rated PTSD symptoms than men. This finding was supported by a direct effects meta-analysis of studies that provided data on both females and males. The current findings support a gender difference in outcomes following trauma-focussed psychological interventions for PTSD. Future research should seek to identify specific factors related to gender that facilitate or inhibit response to these proven interventions.