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Vietnam Veterans Urged to Participate in World-First PTSD Research

Miriam Dwyer
Miriam Dwyer

With approximately one million Australians suffering Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and a high number being Vietnam veterans, the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation and RSL (Queensland Branch) has launched the world’s first PTSD research.

The research seeks to uncover vital information to improve diagnosis, treatment and potentially prevention of PTSD. It will initially focus on veterans, with longer-term applications to help all PTSD sufferers.

“We’re seeking Vietnam veterans with and without PTSD to participate in this world-first research that will be undertaken in Brisbane. “Our aim is to have 300 participants enlisted by March 2015,” said Miriam Dwyer, CEO of the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation.

“Not only will participants play a critical role in helping our team find better pathways to diagnose and treat PTSD, they will also benefit from a comprehensive health check. ” This includes many tests not typically available from your GP, such as a check-up of the heart, lungs, liver, brain and kidney, as well as a mental assessment. All results will then be provided to participants,” she said.

“This is cutting edge research to address a debilitating mental illness caused by life-changing events,” Ms Dwer said. “In our 25-year history of veteran research, this is a significant milestone in our quest to better understand,
treat and potentially prevent the incapacitating condition that is PTSD.”

The PTSD Initiative will have an initial 12-month focus on Vietnam veterans, including some 300 volunteers to be enlisted to undergo comprehensive mental, physical and genetic examinations.

Pre-eminent Australian scientists, researchers and doctors will volunteer their time and expertise to undertake the research, with seed funding from RSL (Queensland Branch) and support from Greenslopes Private Hospital, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), University of Queensland (UQ) and Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology (SNP).

“Given the veteran research focus of the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation and PTSD expertise within the Greenslopes Private Hospital, PTSD was identified as a health priority to be addressed,” said Professor Ross Young, Chair of the GMRF Research and Governance Committee and one of the lead Investigators for the PTSD Initiative.

“PTSD is a major health issue facing our defence personnel. It’s also a major problem in civilian life, which can impact anyone of any age that experiences trauma, be it injury, accident, assault or natural disaster. “The PTSD Initiative builds on previous work by the research team that looks at individual genetic risk factors for PTSD and offers the potential to provide targeted and individualised assistance.

“Importantly, we are extending our work to examine the effects of PTSD on physical disease to ensure we are looking at the overall health of veterans,” he said.

Upon conclusion of the initial Vietnam veteran research, the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation plans to continue research in other high-risk PTSD groups.

“As a not-for-profit research institute, we’re grateful to our many supporters who have helped to facilitate this world-first research, in particular the incredible generosity of RSL Queensland,” said Ms Dwyer. “We will continue to seek funding to progress research in other priority areas, such as contemporary veterans, who are considered high-risk of developing PTSD in coming years. The more we’re able to progress this vital research, the greater impact it can have,” she said.