What is ASPECTS?

Aspects2 - border, cut down

ASPECTS stands for Acute Stress Programme for Children and Teenagers. It is a project looking at how children and young people (aged 8-17) feel after frightening experiences like road traffic accidents or violence.

The people running the project are mainly psychologists, but nurses, A&E doctors, psychiatrists, and biochemists are also involved.

In particular we are trying to understand:

  1. How do young people feel in the first few weeks and months after some kind of traumatic or frightening experience
  2. What biological and psychological factors lead to some young people having significant anxiety (sometimes called posttraumatic stress disorder or PTSD) after a trauma
  3. Can we help young people with PTSD after a recent trauma using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)? This part of ASPECTS is a clinical trial. We are looking to see if having a course of CBT is better than being on a waiting list.

Our main goal (number 3, above) is to see whether we can help children and young people who have recently been affected by a trauma. If you know a child or young person who:

i) has been involved in a terrifying event that occurred in the past 5 months,

ii) is aged 8‐17 years, and

iii) you are worried about how that child or young person is doing

… please read on for more information about what we can offer.

What kinds of frightening experiences might young people have experienced?

These might be:

  • Motor vehicle collisions
  • Assaults
  • Burns or scalds
  • Any accident injury
  • Witnessing violence or harm to someone else
  • Sudden medical emergencies (e.g. anaphylaxis)
  • A sudden or violent bereavement

There might be other things that a young person has experienced that are very frightening and would allow them to enter the ASPECTS study – do get in touch and ask us.

What kinds of anxiety problems might young people be experiencing?

These are just some of the main problems that someone might be experiencing:

  • Memories of the event popping into mind
  • Nightmares
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling irritable
  • Problems sleeping
  • Not enjoying things
  • Avoiding certain places or situations

Together these sorts of problems are called “post-traumatic stress disorder” or PTSD. You can read more about what PTSD is here, and you can read more about its treatment here.

Who is funding ASPECTS?

ASPECTS is a project funded by the Medical Research Council.

Does ASPECTS have ethical approval?

Yes, ASPECTS has been approved by Cambridgeshire 1 NHS Research Ethics Committee (study number 10/H0304/11).

How long is this study running for?

This study is recruiting participants until 31st August 2013.

I know a young person who is feeling anxious after a recent trauma. Could you help them?

Perhaps! The best thing to do is get in touch with us. We are always happy to talk to anyone (e.g. young people, parents, GPs, other health professionals, teachers, etc) about taking part in the ASPECTS study. You are welcome to download [pdf] this sheet that summarises who we able to help in this trial, and what the trial involves.

What help are you offering?

We are trying to help 8-17 year olds who have PTSD after a recent trauma or frightening experience, that occurred within the previous 5 months. Young people entering in the clinical trial part of ASPECTS will either receive a course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or will have to wait for 11 weeks before having CBT.

CBT is a psychological treatment that aims to change how people think and remember things, which in turns helps people to feel less anxious or sad. It is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence for adults with PTSD, but we do not yet know if it is helpful for children and young people who have been in a recent trauma. CBT does not involve any medication.

Children and young people taking part in the ASPECTS clinical trial who do not get CBT straight away, will STILL be offered this treatment after the waiting period of 11 weeks. Whether or not a young person gets CBT is completely random. By randomly allocating young people to CBT or an 11-week waiting list, we can see if CBT is a good treatment for PTSD soon after a trauma.

We will let a young person’s GP know if they are taking part in this study.

What if I don’t live in Cambridge?

Our research clinic is based at the Herchel Smith Building, which is at the Addenbrooke’s hospital site. However, we can still take on children and young people who live outside of Cambridge. If you live elsewhere in Cambridgeshire, or in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, or Essex, then we may be able to see you in your local GP surgery or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services clinic. Do get in touch and we will discuss how we might proceed.

Can I see the information sheets and consent forms for this study?

Yes, you can view these documents here:

[pdf] Information sheet for parents

[pdf] Information sheet for children (8-10 year olds)

[pdf] Information sheet for young people (11-15 year olds)

[pdf] Information sheet for young people (16-17 year olds)

[pdf] Consent form for parents

[pdf] Consent form for children and young people

To talk to someone about getting involved in ASPECTS…

…please contact Richard Meiser-Stedman (, +44 (0)1603 59 3601).

The easy way to access this website again is to go to:

Are you on social media?

Yes, you can follow us on facebook at or via Twitter @aspects_study

Forvie Site, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, CB2 0QQ

Tel:01223 355294
DL:01223 273779

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