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Research on the Mental Health Consequences of Violence and Trauma

Program Announcement 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) encourages investigator-initiated research to enhance scientific understanding about the etiology of psychopathology related to violence and trauma, as well as studies to develop and test effective treatments, services, and prevention strategies in this area. The NIMH mission encompasses the conduct and support of biomedical and behavioral research, and the translation of scientifically generated information into clinical applications and interventions implemented in the community.

The populations and phenomenon of concern include children, youth, adults, and the elderly, males and females, and all racial and ethnic groups. Studies of interest can focus on victims/survivors of interpersonal violence and crime, such as child abuse and neglect, rape, sexual assault, family violence, community violence and victims/survivors of major traumatic events, such as combat and war, mass shootings, terrorism, natural and technological disaster, refugee trauma and relocation, and torture.

Because the consequences of violence and traumatic stress typically involve several factors, the portfolio of NIMH research is multidisciplinary in nature. For example, the portfolio encompasses animal studies of the biological and behavioral effects of unpredictable and uncontrollable stress, mechanistic and descriptive studies of behavioral and biological dysregulation in humans, and clinical studies examining how the severity of post traumatic symptoms is linked to neural functioning, processing of memories, and interpretations of trauma. It also encompasses research to develop, test, and disseminate effective interventions addressing the sequelae of violence and trauma. NIMH encourages research that incorporates genetic, environmental, and neurobiological parameters as they relate to adjustment and psychopathology throughout life, as well as studies of implementation of proven treatments at the individual, clinic, organizational, and systems levels.

Areas of interest include:

  • Studies of interactions among psychosocial and biological risk factors that increase or decrease risk for and course (escalation, persistence, and cessation) of psychopathology.
  • Studies of the type and incidence of mental disorders resulting from exposure to violence and traumatic events, including studies of psychological or biological changes; also studies of the diagnosis, assessment, and course of PTSD and other trauma-related disorders and the appropriate threshold for clinical significance.
  • Studies of psychosocial and psychobiological risk factors associated with differential risk of negative effects in different victim subgroups, as well as studies of psychosocial and psychobiological mechanisms by which interventions work and for whom.
  • Research on the contributions of sleep patterns and pathophysiological indicators of stress and anxiety, including the failure to extinguish negative imagery, on risk and resilience.
  • Development of assessment and screening instruments to guide treatment planning and management plans for victims of violence and traumatic events.
  • Intervention studies testing the efficacy and refinement of individual, family, and/or community-level models and methods of prevention, treatment and services.
  • Studies of system level effects of post-disaster service delivery.
  • Studies of the effectiveness of interventions for victimization in various social and community settings, and the influence of social, institution, and community settings on the availability of interventions, program participation, and outcomes; use of different conceptual and intervention models with various social and cultural groups.
  • Development of innovative, effective, and ethical methods of obtaining and maintaining the participation in research of victims of violence and traumatic events.

Potential applicants are encouraged to consult with program contacts regarding relevant research announcements and grant types.

Farris Tuma, Sc.D.
Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 5197, MSC 9589
Bethesda, MD 20892-9589
Telephone: 301-443-5944
Fax: 301-480-4415

Steven J. Zalcman, M.D.
Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7177 MSC 9639
Bethesda, MD 20892-9639
Fax: 301-402-4740

Denise Juliano-Bult, MSW
Division of Services and Intervention Research
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 7146 MSC 963
Bethesda, MD 20892-9639
Phone: 301-443-1638
Fax: 301-443-4045