Risk and protective factors for complex trauma in rural and urban men

Co-funded by Australian Rotary Health and the Rotary Club of Victor Harbor, SA, PhD scholarship recipient Phillipa Huynh is undertaking a research project into the risk factors for complex trauma in cisgender men who have experienced prolonged or repetitive traumatic events.

Complex trauma is a mental illness with symptoms including negative self-concept, difficulties regulating emotions, and difficulties forming healthy relationships. The project also aims to identify what protects men from experiencing these symptoms or what helps them to manage their symptoms.

“An increased risk of suicide in people experiencing complex trauma and the pronounced disparity in suicide rates between urban and regional areas, particularly in men, underscores a critical gap in our understanding of how to effectively address men’s mental health needs,” Phillipa said.

The project will comprise three stages:

  • A review of the existing literature to determine what and if any sex or gender differences exist in complex trauma research. If possible, any risk and/or protective factors emerging from the research for men experiencing complex trauma symptoms will also be investigated.
  • A study examining the lived experiences of cisgender men, living in both urban and rural/regional areas, who have experienced prolonged or repetitive trauma. Participants will be interviewed and asked about their experiences around emotion regulation, relationships, self-esteem, and accessing treatment (if applicable).

An online questionnaire will be developed to investigate cisgender men who have been exposed to prolonged or repetitive traumatic events. The study will attempt to identify any differences in risk and protective factors between men living in urban vs rural or regional areas. The questionnaire will be largely guided by outcomes from the first and second stages of the project.