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NIH grant advances dentistry school's work on psychosocial stress
Date:11/6/2007

Every day, trauma centers throughout the country provide acute care to patients with intentional injuries. The focus is on treating the physical injury of the patients; there is precious little time for attending to the underlying risky behaviors that gave rise to the injury or to what its psychosocial aftereffects may be.

Vivek Shetty, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at the UCLA School of Dentistry who treats patients with facial trauma, recently proposed that introducing technology to this scenario could lead to a better way to screen for and detect the psychological impact of injuries and thus unite the complementary skills of various health care providers to deliver comprehensive care to patients.

The National Institutes of Health found merit in this unique approach and agreed to fund Shetty's idea.

The UCLA School of Dentistry is among the first research institutions to receive a grant from the NIH's new Genetics, Environment and Health Initiative. Among other goals, the initiative seeks to develop new technologies to measure psychosocial stress and the use of addictive substances, both licit and illicit, in large-scale studies of diverse populations. The four-year, $1,876,920 award to Shetty, the grant's principal investigator, will culminate in the implementation of an innovative new tool that will provide rapid and reliable assessments of the stress response to trauma as evidenced in saliva.

Shetty's previous studies have shown that traumatic facial injury provokes an immediate, intense psychological response from the victim, and a significant number of patients manifest post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms even one year after the injury. Nevertheless, a busy trauma center is not the ideal setting for administering the detailed questionnaires that help identify related mental health issues, whether they exist before or develop after injuries.

For these reasons, Shetty felt it important to develop a
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Contact: Sandra Shagat
sshagat@dentistry.ucla.edu
310-206-0835
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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