How Psychiatric Epidemiology Can Help Reduce the Impact of Traumatic Events

War, violence and abuse leave consequences that go much beyond physical destruction and pain. Armed conflicts, acts of terror, political violence, torture, and natural disasters affect millions around the world, with lasting social, political, economic and psychological consequences. These mass traumatic events generate complex effects not only on those directly affected by mental and physical damages; traumata are passed on to the victims’ families and communities even through the following generations. The existence of these long-term effects has been known for some time, but healthcare systems still do not address the problem, leaving especially the survivors of devastated developing countries to face the aftermath without any support. The Mass Trauma Research Group at I-CORE, led by psychologist Zahava Solomon of Tel Aviv University, aims at filling the gap between theoretical literature and the still inexistent practical solutions by exploring what triggers our individual and collective ability to prepare, adjust and react before, during, and after traumatic events. Based on sociological, psychological and biological studies, the researchers develop and assess realistic interventions. Solomon influenced the policies and practices of governments around the world with her prolific research on stress reaction and post traumatic stress disorder – for her lifelong achievements in social work, she was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize in 2009. Using an unprecedented multidisciplinary approach, Zahava Solomon seeks to find innovative and creative perspectives to create solutions which might inform future policies worldwide and diminish the devastating impact of trauma on our planet.

Zahava is a Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Social Work at the Tel-Aviv University, and the former Head of the Adler Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection. She received both her BA (1973) and MA (1976) from the University of Haifa, Israel and her Ph.D. in Psychiatric Epidemiology from the University of Pittsburgh, USA (1980).
Zahava Solomon joined the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) in 1981 and served as head of the Research Branch in the Medical Corps between the years 1981-1992.Her military rank is Lt. Colonel. In 1990 she joined the Tel-Aviv University. During the years 1994-1996 She served as Dean of the Bob Shapell Social Work School at Tel-Aviv. Prof. Solomon served as the Dean of the special programs at Tel Aviv University between 1997-2001. Since May 1997-2009 Prof. Solomon has been acting as head of the Adler Center for the Study of Child Welfare and Protection. Her research focuses on traumatic stress and especially on the psychological sequel of combat stress reactions, war captivity and the Holocaust.

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