Putting a new emotional recovery program to the test following disaster


The interPAR pilot trial is now recruiting volunteers


Were you, or someone you know, affected by the South Australian Pinery and Sampson Flat bushfires in 2015? Are you feeling stressed or not yourself after these bushfires?

If so, you might consider participating in a new project promoting stress management and emotional recovery after disaster – the interPAR pilot trial (i.e., International program for Promoting Adjustment and Resilience). This trial is open to all adults affected by the 2015 Pinery and Sampson Flat bushfires. The program teaches people skills to manage their stress and emotions to get back on track. Specially trained interPAR coaches will see people from these areas at offices in Elizabeth or areas near Pinery regions over December 2016 to April 2017.


If you know someone who has been emotionally affected by the 2015 Pinery and Sampson Flat bushfires, you may want to pass on this information to them.


What is the interPAR pilot trial?

This trial will test the effectiveness of a new program designed to reduce stress, improve mood, and help them resume activities following the bushfires in 2015. The program is based on learning a set of skills known to have worked with other people following stressful and traumatic events. These skills help people to deal with stress and strong emotions, feel more in control, and look after their relationships. If shown to be effective, the program will be rolled out in larger studies with communities affected by disaster across Australia and overseas.


What will the interPAR pilot trial involve?

People signing up for the interPAR pilot trial will be asked to attend five weekly sessions with a trained interPAR Coach. The first session will take 80 minutes, and the other sessions 50 minutes each. All coaches have volunteered to take part, and have backgrounds in providing care and support following disaster (e.g., community nurses, senior volunteers, case managers). The interPAR coaches are supervised by registered psychologists with expertise in mental health and trauma recovery.


During the sessions, people will learn skills for healthy living, managing strong emotions, coming to terms with the disaster, getting back to normal activities, and dealing with worry and negative thinking. In between sessions, people will be encouraged to practise the skills they have learnt at home.


Before starting the program, participants will be asked to complete an interview and survey with an interPAR project officer, which will take 60 to 90 minutes (either over the telephone or face-to-face). They will be asked to complete the same interview and survey after their last session of the program, and then again three months later.


How do I sign up?

If you would like to participate, please contact Jason Blunt, the interPAR Project Officer on:
0484 568 878

Or jason.blunt@unimelb.edu.au


Why is the interPAR pilot trial important?

After a disaster of either natural or human origin, many survivors will have high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, grief, anger, and relationship difficulties. These issues will often become more obvious in the months following the disaster, after more immediate needs have been met. There is currently a gap in the scientific knowledge of what will help people recover emotionally after disaster – at a time when more and more communities in Australia and overseas are experiencing  disasters.


Promoting emotional recovery in the months following disaster may help to reduce distress and improve the quality of life of survivors, and prevent the development of more serious emotional difficulties down the track. The new program will allow communities, health services, and governments in Australia and around the world to access an evidence-based emotional recovery program at any time, and at no cost.


What are the benefits?

People taking part in the interPAR pilot trial may notice improved mood, better sleep, and stronger relationships, be more physically active, and get back into activities that are important to them. Taking part in the trial might also prevent people from experiencing a worsening of emotional difficulties over time. There are also potential benefits for society, because this trial may contribute to the knowledge of how best to respond to the emotional stress and distress caused by disasters.


Who is involved in the interPAR pilot trial?

Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health is coordinating the interPAR pilot trial, with the endorsement of The Prince’s Charities Australia and funding provided by the Commonwealth as represented by the Australian Government Department of Health. Partners in the pilot study include the Northern Health Network, Country SA Primary Health Network, and the Australian Red Cross.


Would you like to know more about the InterPAR pilot trial?

Please contact the interPAR Project Officer on: 0484 568 878