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The Danish Center of Psychotraumatology

Research area


The research area 'rehabilitation' primarily covers research into the prevention and treatment of traumatisation. In addition, we focus on the prevention of events that can lead to traumatisation (e.g. interpersonal violence, rape, neglect etc.). This research area is particularly relevant to the field of psychotraumatology, as our general research on trauma reactions unequivocally indicates long-term and high levels of psychological distress as characteristic consequences of traumatisation.

Traumatisation includes acute reactions and the diagnoses post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD.
Our research includes evaluating the organisation, structure, practice and impact of the available treatment services for traumatised people, and therefore we conduct much of our research in collaboration with local and national treatment services. The purpose of the programmes is to provide a safe environment for victims and effective rehabilitation.

By using results from previously conducted research projects as a starting point and by conducting research over longer periods of time (e.g. effect evaluation), the Danish Center for Psychotraumatology helps to ensure the development and quality of the treatment offered. In this way, the Danish Center for Psychotraumatology contributes to ensuring the best possible treatment and symptom relief for traumatised individuals.

Below you will find an overview of current and completed projects within the research area. You can click through to a detailed description of each project by clicking on the project title.

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Projects related to the research area:

Ongoing projects

Refugee children are an overlooked group whose parents in many cases have significant problems due to war, flight and exile. We collaborate with two rehabilitation centres (DIGNITY and RCT-Life) to assess the children's possible degree of traumatisation in order to develop treatment options for them.
In this project, we investigate the prevalence of abuse against stalkers who seek help from the Danish Stalking Centre. We examine the extent of PTSD and complex PTSD and look at which factors are associated with many trauma reactions. During 2022, we will conduct a study together with the Danish Stalking Centre on the effect of their treatment. This study is supported by the Danish Victim Foundation.
This study is based on the Danish registers. The idea is to investigate risk factors and outcomes over time for nine different trauma types/causes of referral to the health insurance psychologist programme. The project is supported by Helsefonden.
This study explores some previous research findings that showed that there were different development paths in treatment programmes. How can a prognosis be made early on and can this knowledge be used to tailor new programmes to suit individual client groups? The project is supported by the Danish Victim Foundation.


Ferrajão, P., & Elklit, A. (2021). Attachment Orientations Mediate the Effect of World Assumptions on Posttraumatic Stress in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Illness, Crisis & Loss. Doi. /10.1177/10541373211050498

This project examines child sexual abuse and treatment of sequelae. The project is a continuation of two previous projects, Incest victims in treatment and Treatment and counselling of sexual sequelae after sexual abuse. You can read more about these projects under 'completed projects' on this page. 
Child sexual abuse affects children's biological and social development, and the abuse can lead to serious sequelae in adult life in the form of complex psychological and social problems. However, there is no consensus on the best treatment for the sequelae of childhood sexual abuse. This is due to a lack of knowledge about how the diverse psychological and social problems of victims result in different problem profiles in different individuals. Therefore, more knowledge about problem structures in the treatment population is needed to enable targeted treatment that addresses the specific problems of a given subgroup of victims. This knowledge must be used to develop specific treatment practices and must be linked to other development activities that the National Centre for Psychotraumatology is committed to implementing together with the new nationwide centres. The results of the project will thus help to improve treatment in the field and ensure the best possible treatment for Danish victims of childhood sexual abuse - a treatment based on the latest knowledge in the field and targeted at the victims' specific needs. The project is supported by the Danish Victim Foundation.

 Elklit, A (2018). Incestofre i behandling. Odense: CSM Danmark og Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet (1-20).

Elklit, A. Shevlin, M., Murphy, J., Hyland, P., Murphy, S. & Fletcher, S. (2016): 
Behandling af psykologiske følger efter seksuelle overgreb i barndommen - En forskningsoversigtOdense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi. 1-43

Elklit, A. Shevlin, M., Murphy, S., Hyland, P. & Fletcher, S.(2017): Treatment of Danish Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Research Briefing.Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi (1-19).

Completed projects

The project is based on a clinical case where a patient, following brain surgery to reduce the number of epileptic seizures, suddenly and very strongly relives an old robbery that happened 31 years earlier. The patient develops PTSD and is highly distressed by severe symptoms. The specific brain areas (amygdala and hippocampus) in the non-dominant brain hemisphere that have been surgically removed seem to have played a role as a kind of firewall. Removing them opens the door to violent, repressed memories. The study is the third in the world to have made similar observations.


Haslund-Vinding, J. L., Ziebell, M., Engelmann, C. M., Jørgensen, M. B. & Elklit, A. (2022). Post-traumatic Stress Disorder 31 Years After a Robbery Following Right Temporal Lobe Epilepsy Surgery. Acta Neurochirurgica. Doi: 10.1007/s00701-021-05091-9

Context stands for the Collaborative Network for Training and Excellence in Psychotraumatology. It is a three-year PhD training programme that aims to raise the bar in psychotraumatology in both research and practice. This is done by conducting innovative, high-quality research, training skills and expertise, and creating a more creative and innovative practice in the global field of psychotraumatology. It is a multidisciplinary collaboration between nine different European organisations, covering academic, non-governmental, voluntary and public sectors.
Context has three research programmes that address a specific population group:

1. Asylum seekers and refugees in the EU
2. Professionals and volunteers dealing with emergency situations
3. Victims and perpetrators involved in childhood and gender-based violence

If you want to read more about Context, you can do so here.


Vallières, F., Hyland, P., Murphy, J., Hansen, M., Shevlin, M., Elklit, A., Ceannt, R., Armour, C., Wiedemann, N., Munk, M., O’Hare, G., Spitz, P., Askerod, D., Black-well, N., McCarthy, A., O’Dowd, L., Scott, S., Reid, T., Mokake, A., Halpin, R., Perera, C., Gleeson, C., Frost, R., Flanagan, N., Aldamman, K., Tamrakar, T., Vang, M.L., Sherwood, L., Travers, A., Pedersen, I.H., Walshe, C., McDonagh, T., & Bramsen, R.H. (2017): Training the Next Generation of Psychotraumatologists: A New Collaborative Network for Training and Excellence in Psychotraumatology (CONTEXT). European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 9, 1421001. Doi: 10.1080/20008198.2017.1421001

In connection with the National Centre for Psychotraumatology's evaluation of the regional centres for sexual abuse (CSM), we published the report "Treatment of psychological consequences after childhood sexual abuse" (report in Danish, the headline is translated) in 2016. The purpose was to investigate the treatment effect on a large population of Danish victims who were affiliated with CSM. The participants were followed both during and after a 12-month treatment period. The study was based on prospective data from 484 users and is therefore particularly suitable for developing Danish guidelines and clinical practice in this area. 
The study included a number of factors that could influence the treatment effect, including trauma factors, demographic factors, addiction-related characteristics and other psychological factors. The study found that anxiety, dysthymia (chronic low mood) and depression were the most prevalent clinical syndromes in the group. The least common disorders in the group were psychotic disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. More men than women had alcohol and drug abuse and dysthymia, while women had a significantly higher prevalence of somatoform disorders. In addition, the study found that exposure to multiple abusers was the strongest predictor of psychiatric disorders.

Fletcher, S., Armour, C., Elklit, A. (2017). Predictors of PTSD treatment response trajectories in a sample of childhood sexual abuse survivors: The role of social support, coping and PTSD symptom clusters. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. Doi: 10.1177/0886260517741212

Shevlin, M., Murphy, S., Elklit, A., Hyland, P., & Murphy, J. (2017). Typologies of child sexual abuse: An analysis of multiple abuse acts among a large sample of treatment-seeking survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Doi: 10.1037/tra0000268

Murphy, S., Elklit, A., Hyland, P., Murphy, J., & Shevlin, M. (2017). A Cross-Lagged Panel Study of Dissociation and PTSD in a Treatment-Seeking Sample of Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Doi: 10.1002/jclp.2243

Shevlin, M., McElroy, E., Elklit, A., Murphy, S., Murphy, J., & Hyland, P (2016). Prevalence and Predictors of Axis I Disorders in a Large Sample of Treatment-Seeking Victims of Sexual Abuse and Incest. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 7. Doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v7.30686.

Elklit, A. (2016). Treatment of Danish Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse – a Cohort Study. Behavioral Sciences, 5, 589-601. Doi: 10.3390/bs40x000x

Lahav, Y., & Elklit, A. (2016). The cycle of healing-dissociation and attachment during treatment of CSA survivors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 60, 67-76

Murphy, S., Elklit, A., Hyland, P., & Shevlin, M. (2016). Insecure attachment orientations and posttraumatic stress in a female treatment-seeking sample of survivors of childhood sexual abuse: A cross-lagged panel study. Traumatology, 22(1), 48-55.

Elklit, A., Christiansen, D., Palic, S., Karsberg, S. & Eriksen, S.B. (2014). Impact of Traumatic Events on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder among Danish Survivors of Sexual Abuse in Childhood. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 23(8), 918-934. Doi: 10.1080/10538712.2014.964440

Danish reports:
Selsbæk, S., Jørgensen, L. K., & Elklit, A. (2019). De regionale centre for seksuelt misbrug: Rapport over effekt af behandling 2018 – et fokus på senfølger af seksuelle overgreb i barndommen. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Selsbæk, H. S., & Elklit, A. (2017). De regionale centre for seksuelt misbrug. Rapport over effekt af behandling 2016: Et fokus på senfølger af seksuelle overgreb i barndommen. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Elklit, A., Shevlin, M., Murphy, J., Hyland, P., Murphy, S., & Fletcher, S. (2016). Behandling af psykologiske følger efter seksuelle overgreb i barndommen: En forskningsoversigt. Syddansk Universitet

Karstoft, K-I., Beck Hansen, N., Eriksen, S. B., & Elklit, A. (2014). Effekt af Behandling – et fokus på senfølger af seksuelle overgreb i barndommen. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

The project investigated the treatment effect of treating abused Danish women and children. Nina B. Hansen, Sara B. Eriksen and Ask Elklit are the authors of the project, which was carried out in collaboration with Mødrehjælpen. Mødrehjælpen later received an SFI award for documenting the effect of their treatment. 
Women who are subjected to domestic violence suffer from many physical and psychological symptoms as a result of the violence, and it is therefore important to develop effective treatment programmes for this group of victims in order to reduce the harmful after-effects. The study included 212 women and children who have sought help from Mødrehjælpen (Mødrehjælpen is a social-humanitarian organisation who offer support and counselling to pregnant women as well as families in vulnerable positions) and have been offered the treatment programme "Out of the Shadow of Violence", which is divided into three phases. The results showed that the treatment programme was overall effective in reducing the women's psychological symptoms (measured in relation to post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety as well as perceived social support). In addition, the results showed an increased perception of adequate social support and that each phase of the treatment programme itself had a positive impact on the women's psychological wellbeing.

Hansen, N.B., Eriksen, S.B. & Elklit, A. (2014) Effects of an intervention program for female victims of intimate partner violence on psychological symptoms and perceived social support. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 5. Doi: 10.3402/ejpt.v5.24797.

Danish reports:
Eriksen, S. B., Hansen, N. B. & Elklit, A. (2015). Ud af voldens skygge II. Evaluering af rådgivning- og behandlingseffekt. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet, 1-89.

 Beck, N. & Elklit, A. (2012) Ud af voldens skygge. Evaluering af rådgivning og behandlingseffekt. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet. pp. 1-79.

This project focused on the reactions of victims of violence and the treatment of victims of violence. The starting point was a multi-year trial of outreach crisis intervention in Randers, described in the publication 'Offer for vold' (translated Victims of Violence) by Elklit, A. (2013).

Elklit, A.(2005). Kan akutte reaktioner forudsige vedvarende traumatiske reaktioner hos voldsofre? Forskningsnyt fra Psykologien, 14(4), 27-28.

Elklit, A. & Kristiansen, E.(1995). Voldsofrets reaktioner. I Kristiansen, E. (ed.). Voldsom ungdom. Randers Kommune (26-27).

Elklit, Anna & Elklit, A.(1993). Ti ud af femten voldsofre er utilfredse med retssystemet. Psykolog Nyt, 47(16), 564-566.

Elklit, A.(1993) To ud af tre voldsofre har problemer ét år efter overfaldet. Forskningsnyt fra psykologien, 2 (1-2), 20-21.

Elklit, A.(1993) Det kropslige aspekt i traumearbejdet. I A. Elklit (ed.): Psykologisk behandling af voldsofre - en symposierapport. København: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag, 86-93.

Elklit, A.(1993). Offer for vold. Aarhus Universitetsforlag.

Elklit, A. (red.)(1993) Psykologisk behandling af voldsofre - en symposierapport. København: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag (1. udg. 1992 Psykologisk Institut, Aarhus Universitet).

Elklit, A.(1991) Rotters sætningsfuldendelsestest i en komparativ undersøgelse af voldsofre. Nordisk Psykologi, 43 (2), 107-121.

Elklit, A.(1989) Behandling af voldsofre. Nordisk Psykologi, 41(1), 75-79.
The project involved children at Oust Mølleskolen, a full-day school in Randers.
Children who experience domestic violence and/or other forms of neglect during early childhood can experience constant anxiety and insecurity, which puts them at risk of developing post-traumatic symptoms over time. These trauma symptoms can be interpreted as behavioural difficulties, emotional problems or lack of social skills, which is why it is important to investigate what traumatic events the children have experienced and how these affect their behaviour. The purpose of the study was therefore to find out the extent of PTSD among the children and to investigate the extent to which PTSD is related to intelligence scores and the environment's perception of the children. The study is based on medical records of the children's home environment, testing of the children with three selected TAT boards, a new type of PTSD test developed for children aged 6-12 years, WISC profiles of the children, and information about the children's strengths and difficulties from parents and school contacts.
The study found that half of the participating children had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and that parents and carers underestimated the children's level of distress.
Traumatisation in children often manifests as disorganised and agitated behaviour, however, the children's intellectual ability did not seem to be affected by their trauma. In any case, treatment efforts should also include the child's trauma, especially as there is often co-morbidity with PTSD. PTSD can therefore potentially underlie the onset of other symptoms. It is therefore not enough to see these children solely as children with behavioural and emotional problems; working with the children's traumatisation and the holistic view of the family is of the highest priority in order to provide the children with the necessary support.

Laursen, H. & Elklit, A.(2009) Traumer hos børn på heldagsskole. Psykologisk Pædagogisk Tidsskrift, 46 (1-2), 9-24.

Project on the evaluation of the Centre for Rape Victims in Aarhus led by Louise Hjort Nielsen, Ask Elklit and Ole-Ingemann Hansen carried out in collaboration with the University of Southern Denmark, the Centre for Rape Victims in Aarhus, East Jutland Police and Professor Rebecca Campbell from Michigan State University. Over the past decade, Rebecca Campbell has conducted extensive research on the evaluation of American centres. In 2012, she visited the Centre for Rape Victims in Aarhus to gain insight into the Danish treatment model. She was impressed by the Danish model characterised by close collaboration between several professional groups (nurses, police, psychologists, doctors). At the same time, she recommended an evaluation of the Centre for Rape Victims in order to further optimise the efforts by identifying areas where the centre did not live up to its own objectives. Among other things, the evaluation looked at the needs that victims bring to the centre and how these needs are met. 
In addition, the evaluation looked at how professionals perceived the service they provided and whether there was consistency between the experiences of victims and professionals. The aim was to improve practices in all professional groups according to the survey results and then re-evaluate a few years later to see if the interventions had made positive differences for victims.


Nielsen, L. H., Hansen, M., Elklit, A. & Bramsen, R. H. (2016). Sexual assault victims participating in research: Causing harm when trying to help? Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 30, 412-417. Doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2016.01.0170883-9417

Nielsen, L. H., Beck Hansen, N. & Elklit, A. (2014). Service Utilization and Satisfaction with Service Providers in Help-Seeking Victims of Rape and Sexual Assault. US - China Law Review, 11(9), 1176-1191.

Danish reports:
Hansen, N. B. , Nielsen, L. H., Bramsen, R, H., Ingemann-Hansen, O., Elklit, A. (2015). Anmeldte voldtægtssager. En beskrivelse af flow og frafald i anmeldte voldtægtssager ved Østjylland Politi. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi. 1-43

Hansen, N.B., Nielsen, L.H., Bramsen, R. H., Ingemann-Hansen, O. & Elklit, A. (2016). Anmeldt voldtægt. Faktorer relateret til sagshenlæggelse i anmeldte voldtægtssager ved Østjylland Politi. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi. 1-36.

The project was carried out in collaboration with the Confederation of Danish Industry, Falck, Siemens, the IT University of Copenhagen, CS, Knowledge Lab, Apex Virtual Entertainment, Crisware, Photobia, Psychiatry in the Capital Region of Denmark and SGI. From the National Centre for Psychotraumatology, Karen-Inge Kartstoft and Professor Ask Elklit were associated with the project. The purpose of the project was to develop and test a computer game for use in the assessment and treatment of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By combining game technology with measurement of physiological reactivity, the goal was to create a game that could be customised to the individual soldier and thus act as a flexible assessment and treatment tool.
Thirty-five veterans participated in the study, of which 15 of the soldiers met criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, while the remaining 20 did not. The majority of the veterans expressed that the game was relevant to them and made them think about what negatively affects them. Most highlight the in-built flashback situations as the most powerful to experience. Based on Games for Health, it has been suggested to psychoeducate veterans or use the game in a guiding way in treatment; for example, as a means to improve the patient's ability to identify stressful situations through game exposure. In order to further investigate the effect of the treatment, an accurate expression of symptom level is required, which would benefit from further research. Game exposure can be used as a diagnostic supplement, as the physiological gaming reactions made it possible to distinguish between veterans with and without PTSD.


Related publications:
Karstoft, K.-I. & Elklit, A.: Spilbaseret behandling af veteraner med PTSD - en manual til individuel, kognitiv behandling med spilbaseret eksponering. Odense: Center for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet. pp. 1-24. 2012.

Holmgård, C., Yannakakis, G. N., Karstoft, K.I. & Andersen, H. S. (2013). Stress Detection for PTSD via the StartleMart Game. Affective Computing and Intelligent Interaction (ACII), 523 - 528. The report can be found here.

In the study, intimate partner violence is defined broadly as: "a behaviour by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse, and controlling behaviours".

Previous studies have shown that eHealth interventions have the potential to reduce exposure to intimate partner violence and reduce the health consequences that can accompany such exposure. This potential is to be found in the possible advantage of eHealth interventions in providing a safe and flexible space for this population, compared to more traditional face-to-face approaches.
This systematic review examined the effect of eHealth interventions on the reduction of intimate partner violence, depression and PTSD symptoms in women who have experienced intimate partner violence and unfortunately found that the therapy had no effect on either reducing exposure to violence or reducing its sequelae. The authors point out that there are so many complex factors involved in domestic violence that other types of interventions are needed.


Linde, D. S., Bakiewicz, A., Normann, A. K., Hansen, N. B., Lund, A., & Rasch, V. (2020) Intimate Partner Violence and Electronic Health Interventions: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Trials. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 22(12). Doi: 10.2196/22361

The aim of this study is to qualitatively explore the experiences of patients with PTSD with regard to using an  app as a stand-alone intervention before commencing psychotherapeutic treatment.


Riisager, L., Christensen, A. B., Scharff, F. B., Arendt, I., Ismail, I., Lau, M. E., & Moeller, S. B. (2021). Patients' Experiences of Using a Self-help App for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Qualitative Study. JMIR formative research, 5(8), e26852.

In Denmark, approximately 4,500 children and adolescents under the age of 18 have a parent in prison. The children can visit their mum or dad, but figures from the Danish Prison and Probation Service show that the number of prison visits decreases when the children reach their teenage years.
The National Centre for Psychotraumatology has developed the game 'Fængslet' (The Prison), a game that aims to improve the social relationship between parents and children through play and humor. The project is supported by TrygFonden. The goal of this project was to co-design a new board game (with children and inmate fathers) that could strengthen the communication between child and inmate fathers at the moment of visitation. Today, the game is available in most visiting rooms in Danish prisons.


Markussen, T., & Knutz, E. (2020). Playing games to re-story troubled family narratives in Danish maximum-security prisons. Punishment & Society, 22(4), 483-508.

Knutz, E., Markussen, T., Visch, V., & Tan, E. (2020). Family narratives and identity navigation in social design: a method of analysis. Journal of Design Research, 18(5-6), 388-409.

A description of the Health Insurance Scheme in English. The scheme is unique and has no equivalent in any other country. It is important to share the scheme as it is designed to help people who are exposed to specific, named traumatic events.


Elklit, A. & Nielsen, L.H. (2008). Public Subsidized Assistance for Psychological Counseling in The Danish Public National Health Insurance Service. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 8(4), 352-357. Doi: 10.1093/brief-treatment/mhn022

This project resulted in a single publications, which describes the term complicated grief.

Elklit, A.(2006) Risikofaktorer i forbindelse med kompliceret sorg – Traume & PTSD. Nordisk tidsskrift for palliativ medisin, 23(1), 49-54.

Both private and public crisis counselling have been debated on a regular basis. Professor Ask Elklit has made a number of contributions to these debates, including when questions were raised about whether too much crisis counselling was being provided and who should provide crisis counselling to particularly vulnerable occupational groups. 
Publication no. 2 below is the background material for a major hearing in the Danish parliament on psychological counselling.

Elklit, A.(2007) Krisehjælp og krisestyring? Psykolog Nyt, 61 (19), 26-30

Elklit, A., Isidor, S., Kristensen T. E., Konnerup, A., Lyngby, M. & Obaidi, M.(2007). Psykologisk krisehjælp – ydelser, ordninger og behov. København: Dansk Krise- og Katastrofepsykologisk selskab og Psykologisk Institut, Aarhus Universitet. 1-149.

Elklit, A.(2006). Krisehjælp og territoriekamp Psykolog Nyt,14, 26.

Elklit, A.(1999). Krisehjælp til alle? Psykolog Nyt, 53 (17), 12-15.

Elklit, A. & Vesterby, A.(1999). Integreret krisehjælp til voldtægtsofre. Psykolog Nyt, 53 (20), 9 –11.

This project was created to emphasise the importance of the bodily aspect in the treatment of trauma disorders.

Elklit, A.(1997): Kropslige og transpersonlige behandlingsformer indenfor posttraumatisk kriseintervention. Psykologisk Pædagogisk Rådgivning, 34, 50-59.

Elklit, A.(1993): Det kropslige aspekt i traumearbejdet I A. Elklit (ed.): Psykologisk behandling af voldsofre - en symposierapport. København: Dansk Psykologisk Forlag, 86-93.
The project began in January 2016 and received financial support from the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council of Ministers' Secretariat. The aim was to identify existing programmes and measures used in different Nordic countries to help perpetrators of domestic violence break violent tendencies. A questionnaire was developed and distributed to professionals working with these social interventions.
The project found great variation in the number of programmes offered and further highlighted the problematic lack of clear common guidelines for treatment plans. This variation and challenge was seen both between and within countries. The project also found that geographical location had an impact on the accessibility of the programmes offered and that far from all programmes were free of charge. Approximately half of all programmes did not involve contacting the (ex)partner during or after treatment, and almost half of the programmes did not use screening tools to assess participants' personal safety. However, most programmes did screen for treatment outcomes, but did not include statements from either the participant's (ex-)partner or the associated professional. The results were compared and discussed in a European context. Sarah Dokkedahl was responsible for the Danish contribution and the mapping of treatment programmes.

In 2017, the National Centre for Psychotraumatology prepared a report for Dialogue against Violence and the Ministry of Gender Equality describing the scientific basis for mutual or interpersonal violence. The report includes a number of studies on violence from the National Centre for Psychotraumatology.


Dokkedahl, S. B., & Elklit, A. (2018). Undersøgelse af indbyrdes vold. Syddansk Universitet. Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi.

Based on research into the psychological consequences of losing close family members to terminal illness, two studies were published in 2012 and 2013 respectively.
The first study was based on: Early Psychological Sequelae of Losing a Close Relative Due to Terminal Cancer. The limited amount of knowledge available on the traumatising nature of a death can have for the bereaved, created a basis for further research. Similarly, the literature on risk factors for traumatisation after death was sparse. Therefore, the aim was to investigate the extent of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a group of people who had recently lost a close family member to incurable cancer. The study included 132 participants, 29.5% of whom had severe PTSD one month after the death. At the same time, 26.2% of the participants met the criteria for subclinical PTSD. Negative affectivity, social support and locus of control around the loss loss predicted 57% of the variance in PTSD severity. A focus on the bereaved and specifically these risk factors in the post-loss period may therefore help identify bereaved individuals at particular risk of developing PTSD as a result of the loss.

The second study was a six-month follow-up. This study also examined the prevalence of PTSD in survivors of people with terminal illnesses and sought to identify risk factors for the development of PTSD. 54 people participated in the study, of which 21.6% of participants met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis 6 months after death. Compared to the measurement taken one month after death, there was a decrease in the prevalence rate of PTSD of 8.6%. Post-death medication, place of death, lack of a close intimate relationship, negative affectivity, and experience of powerlessness or horror predicted 65% of the variation in PTSD severity. The study showed that a significant proportion of bereaved people were at high risk of developing chronic PTSD six months after the loss.


Kristensen, T. E., Elklit, A. & Karstoft, K.-I. (2012): Post-traumatic stress disorder after bereavement: Early psychological sequelae of losing a close relative due to terminal cancer. Journal of Trauma and Loss, 17, 1-14. Doi: 10.1080/15325024.2012.665304

Kristensen, T. E., Elklit, A., Karstoft, K.-I., & Palic, S. (2013). Predicting Chronic Post-traumatic stress disorder in Bereaved Relatives: A 6-Month Follow-Up Study. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 31(4), 396-405. Doi: 10.1177/1049909113490066

In 2019, the National Centre for Psychotraumatology completed a project on suicide prevention in Uganda in collaboration with Gulu University in Northern Uganda and the Immigrant Medicine Clinic at Odense University Hospital. The aim of the project was to strengthen Gulu University's capacity to play a role in stabilising Northern Uganda through an interdisciplinary, academic and health-oriented approach. The first study showed that there was a large positive psychological impact on the village counsellors who had been trained in suicide prevention.
The project was led by PhD student Henry Oboke and was supported by Danida.

Read more about the Gulu project here.


Oboke, H. & Whyte, S.R. (2019) Anger and Bitter Hearts: The Spread of Suicide in Northern Ugandan Families. Ethnos - Journal of Anthropology. Doi: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1629982.

Oboke, H., Abio, A., Ocaka, F. K., Sodeman, M., Elklit, A. & Ovuga, E. (2017) Impact of mental health training on the mental well-being of lay counselors in Northern Uganda. Jacobs Journal of Community Medicine, 3(1), 31.

The project was carried out in collaboration with Smertecenter Syd (Paincenter South in Odense) and was led by Tonny Elmose. It was a controlled efficacy study initiated in 2012 to compare cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy for non-malignant pain and also to compare results with a matched control group. The hypothesis was that the mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy condition would reduce participants' pain intensity and perceived psychological distress compared to the control group. A further hypothesis was that reduced pain intensity and perceived psychological distress would be associated with a higher degree of participants' illness acceptance and the practice of mindfulness. 70 patients with chronic non-malignant pain were included in the study, of which 50 were allocated to the efficacy group and 20 to the matched control group. The results showed that mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy reduced depression, anxiety and pain catastrophising compared to the control group. Increased amounts of mindfulness and illness acceptance were associated with changes in perceived psychological distress, with the exception of depression, which was only associated with changes in mindfulness. Surprisingly, changes in mindfulness did not correlate with changes in illness acceptance, thus the results indicate that mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy target different mechanisms. The results also indicate that changes in illness acceptance are not necessarily essential for coping with pain-related stress.

Andersen, T. E., Karstoft, K-I., Brink, O. & Elklit, A. (2016). Pain-catastrophizing and fear-avoidance beliefs as mediators between post-traumatic stress symptoms and pain following whiplash injury – A prospective cohort study. European Journal of Pain, 20(8), 41-52. Doi: 10.1002/ejp.848

Andersen, T. E., Elklit, A., & Brink O. (2013). PTSD Symptoms Mediate the Effect of Attachment on Pain and Somatisation after Whiplash injury. Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health, 9, 75-83. Doi: 10.2174/1745017901309010075

Andersen, T. E., Andersen, P. G., Vakkala, M. A. & Elklit, A.(2012) The traumatised chronic pain patient – Prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder - PTSD and pain sensitisation in two Scandinavian samples referred for pain rehabilitation. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 3, 39-43.

Elklit, A. & Jones, A.(2006) The Association between Anxiety and Chronic Pain After Whiplash Injury: Gender-specific Effects. Clinical Journal of Pain, 22 (5), 487-490.

The project focused on young people in grief who had lost a parent to cancer and who participated in a grief group organised by the Danish Cancer Society. The article summarises some of the treatment considerations that psychologists should consider when working with young people in grief.


Related publications:
Norby, C. & Elklit, A.(2003) Unge i sorg: erfaringer fra et gruppeforløb med unge, som har mistet en kræftsyg forælder. Psykologisk Pædagogisk Rådgivning, 40(5), 520-537.

The project was led by Rikke Sophie Bak with Signe Sofie Nielsen, Mathias Lasgaard, Rikke Holm Bramsen and Ask Elklit (all from the National Centre for Psychotraumatology). The project involved a new programme of individual and group therapy for victims of rape who were assaulted more than 6 months ago and resulted in the report "Stadig ramt..." (translated: Still affected), which was published in 2011. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Centre for Rape Victims and received financial support from Jyllandsposten, Aase og Ejnar Danielsens fond, H. C. Bechgaards fond, FLS Industriens A/S Gavefond and various satspuljemidler.
Due to limited resources, most Centres for Rape Victims had strict time limits of 3-7 days after the assault, but a large proportion of rape victims do not contact them immediately after the assault has taken place. Therefore, in 2007, the Centre for Rape Victims in Aarhus initiated this project, which aimed to investigate the prevalence of trauma symptoms in women who had been raped or attempted raped more than half a year ago and to offer them therapy and measure its effect. 59 women participated in the study, and the results showed that 72% of the rape victims met the criteria for PTSD, while 16% met the criteria for subclinical PTSD despite the fact that they had been sexually assaulted an average of 7-8 years ago. This indicates extensive and prolonged traumatisation and confirms the assumption of a significant need for help in this group.
The results also showed a good treatment effect, as the victims had significantly fewer trauma symptoms after completing treatment, which was also the case half a year later. The results also indicated that group treatment was more successful in reducing the degree of traumatisation in the rape victims compared to individual treatment.

Bak, R.S., Nielsen, S.S., Lasgaard, M., Bramsen, R.H. & Elklit, A. (2011) Stadig ramt. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet.

The project has studied elderly people in grief and has resulted in several publications over a number of years. The project was led by Professor Ask Elklit and Associate Professor Maja O'Connor from Aarhus University. 
Some of the publications were based on Maja O'Connor's study of older people in Aarhus County who had lost a spouse. It turned out that many of the elderly suffered from PTSD and were traumatised by the death of their spouse.

O’Connor & Elklit, A. (2015). Treating PTSD symptoms in older adults. In U. Schnyder & M. Cloitre: Evidence Based Treatments for Trauma-Related Psychological Disorders - A Practical Guide for Clinicians (pp. 381-397). Berlin: Springer.

Armour, C., O’Connor, M., Elklit, A. & Elhai, J. (2013) Assessing PTSD's Latent Structure in Elderly Bereaved European Trauma Victims: Evidence for a Five Factor Dysphoric and Anxious Arousal Model. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 210(10), 901-906. Doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e3182a5befb

O’Connor, M. & Elklit, A. (2010) Forståelse og behandlingen af sorgforløb. Stjernen, 19 (3), 14-18.

Elklit, A. & O’Connor, M. (2005) PTSD in a Danish population of elderly bereaved. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 46, 439-445.
Elklit, A. & O’Connor, M. (2003) Ældre, der sørger – om posttraumatisk stress forstyrrelse hos ældre efterladte og betydningen af personlighed for sorgreaktionen. Psykolog Nyt, 57(21), 3-11.

The study was a pilot study aimed at investigating gender differences in expressive writing as an intervention for parents of children with leukaemia. The study found that expressive writing has a significant effect as an intervention and that there are significant gender differences for the intervention.


Christiansen, D. M., Martino, M. L., Elklit, A. & Freda, M. F. (2022). Sex differences in the outcome of expressive writing in parents of children with leukaemia. Clinical Psychology in Europe, 4(1), e5533. Doi: 10.23668/psycharchives.5191

This project examines the impact of psychological debriefing. The review, based on 25 studies, shows that debriefing is effective when conducted for work groups and in accordance with established procedures.


Tamrakar, T., Murphy, J. & Elklit, A. (2019). Was Psychological Debriefing dismissed too quickly? An assessment of the 2002 Cochrane Review. Crisis, Stress, and Human Resilience: An International Journal, 1(3), 146-155.

Elklit, A., Isidor, S., Kristensen T. E., Konnerup, A., Lyngby, M. & Obaidi, M. (2007)  Psykologisk krisehjælp – ydelser, ordninger og behov, s. 1-149. København: Dansk Krise- og Katastrofepsykologisk selskab og Psykologisk Institut, Aarhus Universitet.

Arendt, M. & Elklit, A. (2001). Effectiveness of Psychological Debriefing. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 104, 423-437.

The project aims to document the extent of the violence experienced by women in Danish shelters and answer the following research questions:

1. What are the psychological consequences of partner and family-related violence among women in Danish crisis centres?
2. What are the consequences of psychological violence?
3. How does mental health develop during the stay and at 3-month follow-up?

Dokkedahl, S., Kok, R., Murphy, S., Kristensen, T.R., Bech-Hansen, D., Elklit, A. (2019). The Psychological Subtype of Intimate Partner Violence and its Effect on Mental Health: Protocol for A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Systematic Reviews, 8(1), 198-2xx. Doi: 10.1186/s13643-019-1118-1.

Dokkedahl, S. B. & Elklit, A. (2019). Understanding the Mutual Partner Dynamic of Intimate Partner Violence: A Review. Partner Abuse, 10(3).

Dokkedahl, S. B. & Elklit, A. (2018). Undersøgelse af indbyrdes vold. Odense: Videnscenter for Psykotraumatologi, Syddansk Universitet. (pp 1-101). (2. udgave, 2019)

Dokkedahl ,S,. Kristensen, R. T., Murphy, S., & Elklit, A. (2021). The complex trauma of psychological vionelce: cross-sectional findings from a Cohort of four Danish Women Shelters. European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 12 (1). Doi: 10.1080/20008198.2020.1863580.

Dokkedahl, S. B., Kristensen, T. R. & Elklit, A. (2022). Can Women Shelters help reduce symptoms of PTSD and C-PTSD? Trajectories of PTSD Symptom Development Following Partner- and Family Related Violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Doi:10.1177/08862605211066568.


Last Updated 28.09.2023