Trauma-Net: Empowerment Dynamics Through Social Cognitive Theory

This is an NIMH funded project (Grant # 1R41MH082498-01) with subcontracts between the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Vision and Security Technology Laboratory, the Psychology Department, and Blue Sun Incorporated.

The internet provides a potentially powerful medium through which trauma and disaster survivors can obtain mental health support. Clinical researchers around the world are moving forward in developing and testing unique interventions online. However, early research also has highlighted some of the major challenges these types of programs face. Specifically, future developments that are both scientifically efficacious and commercially viable must address a) user engagement, culture/language specificity, b) integration of new emerging technology, and c) program content deconstruction analysis. Each of these areas of concern are addressed in this project.

The proposed product will be a state of the art interactive web system for building individual empowerment post-trauma and post-disaster. This system will be commercially viable through multiple revenue streams based on its utility for different audiences, its flexibility and speed for easy customization, its strong theoretical and empirical foundation, and creative integration of technology.

Through the STTR Phase I project, we have successfully built and evaluated an interactive web system with many features such as multi-media presentations and interactive content built from the foundation of Social Cognitive Theory. The site is presented within a series of modules that include education on many different aspects of trauma and disaster recovery. The software has theoretically driven customization of web pages based on user demographics to enhance the power of the vicarious success modeling demonstrated in the video and audio segments of the site and enhance user connection to the site. Individual users are provided empowerment feedback throughout the site with graphs and motivational language that support efforts toward recovery. The current project will focus on a) further empirical analysis of the program’s effectiveness, b) enhancing the cultural reach of the system, and c) advancing the program’s technological sophistication.

Dr. Charles Benight and students are working to evaluate the program’s effectiveness and enhance the cultural reach of the system, while Dr. Terry Boult and students at the VAST Lab are working to advance the website’s technological sophistication through a variety of methods.

Below is a snapshot of the main My Trauma Recovery website as of December 2009. This is one example of many different forms of the website, which is also currently customized for disaster recovery as well as the recovery of first responders who have been through trauma.

Snapshot of Trauma Website Home Page