PhD Opportunity

Named contact person – Professor Basia Spalek

 An Exploration of Trauma amongst Refugees in the East Midlands: Policy and Practice Implications

Project Outline

Background Context

Research shows that refugee populations have higher levels of mental health and trauma-related issues. A recent 2013 report by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), highlights a number of research studies that illustrate the trauma-related consequences of conflict and displacement (UNHCR: 2013: 23). The impacts of trauma are far-reaching and can include: depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, panic attacks, personality and attachment disorders (a result of complex trauma that occurs early in childhood), risk taking behaviours, alcohol and drug dependency, and PTSD.

Aims and Objectives

This proposal aims to implement and then evaluate trauma-based screening tools and interventions, as recommended by NICE and WHO guidelines, for Syrian refugees arriving in Derby, Nottingham and Leicester.  The complexities of trauma are not widely understood by wide-ranging pubic sector and even medical professionals.  Additionally, trauma-based symptoms amongst minority refugee populations, who have different cultural, ethnic and religious identities, are poorly understood.

This project has the following objectives:

  • Raise awareness amongst, and educate, professionals coming into contact with Syrian/refugee populations (housing officers, social workers, General Practitioners etc.) about trauma and trauma-based symptoms.
  • Educate and train professionals coming into contact with Syrian/refugee populations into using an evidence-based trauma screening tool, so that individuals displaying PTSD and other significant trauma symptoms can be referred on to the appropriate services.
  • Implement trauma-focussed cognitive behavioural interventions with Syrian/refugee populations that are culturally sensitive.


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