Randomised controlled trial of post-incident trauma processing techniques with new police recruits

Randomised Control Trial Status


Trial Hypothesis

​The hypothesis is that participants will, with training and practice, become more confident in applying hippocampal dependant spatial and episodic processing to everyday traumatic material and in doing so will develop some resilience to experiences they may otherwise have found difficult. We would not expect to see large effect sizes due to the number of environmental and genetic conditions which influence trauma processing capacity and which cannot be controlled in this study. We do expect feedback to reflect self-reported trauma processing improvements and higher confidence than with the control group after the first 12 months.

Geographical area

​Greater Manchester.

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Cambridge

In Collaboration With

Police Dependants' Trust

Project Start Date

May 2017

Participants - inclusion criteria

  • ​PCL-5 below PTSD threshold (no current diagnosis or probable levels of post-traumatic stress)
  • Not currently suffering from anxiety or depression
  • Taking of SSRIs to be noted
  • Only 'manageable' difficult experiences to be used in training, not extreme trauma exposure.

Target Sample Size

  • ​n = 75
  • trial group n = 46
  • control group n = 29

Study Design

​Basic randomised comparing treatment to control as well as within-group differences pre and post treatment.


​Post-Incident Trauma Processing Techniques based on hippocampal dependant spatial and episodic memory consolidation using maps and timelines, supported by grounding techniques to protect against trauma re-exposure or unnecessary stressing.

Outcome Measures

  • ​PCL-5 Score monthly
  • Self-reported changes in a) emotional response to traumas to which the techniques are applied and b) recall detail of traumas to which the techniques are applied
  • Ability to shift overhead view and commit representation to paper (advanced allocentric processing as an indicative measure of hippocampal integrity)

Summary of Findings

​Initial findings suggest that 75% of trial participants felt an improvement in emotional response to the event processed as a direct result of applying the techniques and 46% reported improvement in recall of the event (ie new information reported).
50% showed initial capacity for the more advanced hippocampal processing task.

Date due for completion

April 2019

Date last updated

Wednesday 27 June 2018
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