Preventing PTSD, depression and associated health problems in student paramedics: Protocol for PREVENT-PTSD, a randomised controlled trial of supported online cognitive training for resilience versus alternative online training and standard practice
Wild J., El-Salahi S., Tyson G., Lorenz H., Pariante CM., Danese A., Tsiachristas A., Watkins E., Middleton B., Blaber A., Ehlers A.
Introduction Emergency workers dedicate their lives to promoting public health and safety, yet suffer higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression (MD) compared with the general population. They also suffer an associated increased risk for physical health problems, which may be linked to specific immunological and endocrine markers or changes in relevant markers. Poor physical and mental health is costly to organisations, the National Health Service and society. Existing interventions aimed at reducing risk of mental ill health in this population are not very successful. More effective preventative interventions are urgently needed. We first conducted a large-scale prospective study of newly recruited student paramedics, identifying two cognitive factors (rumination and resilience appraisals) that predicted episodes of PTSD and MD over a 2-year period. We then developed internet-delivered cognitive training for resilience (iCT-R), a supported online intervention, to modify cognitive predictors. This protocol is for a randomised controlled trial to evaluate the efficacy of the resilience intervention. Methods and analysis 570 student paramedics will be recruited from participating universities. They will be randomly allocated to iCT-R or to supported online training of an alternative, widely available intervention or to training-as-usual. Follow-up will occur after the intervention/standard practice period and at 6, 12 and 24 months. Primary outcomes include rates of PTSD and MD and subsydnromal PTSD and MD, measured by the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, the Patient-Health Questionnaire-9 and the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition. Secondary outcomes include measures of resilience, rumination, anxiety, psychological distress, well-being, salivary cortisol, plasma levels of C-reactive protein, smoking and alcohol use, weight gain, sleep problems, health-related quality of life, health resource utilisation and productivity. Ethics and dissemination The Medical Sciences Inter-Divisional Research Ethics Committee at the University of Oxford granted approval, reference: R44116/RE001. The results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Access to raw data and participant information will be available only to members of the research team. Trial registration number ISRCTN16493616; Pre-results.