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Medical scientists investigate stress, health and disease



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'Pfl Media Release The Hon Bruce Scott MP Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Federal Member for Maranoa

9/98

9 February, 1998

M EDICAL SCIENTISTS INVESTIGATE STRESS, HEALTH AND DISEASE

A medical conference opening in Brisbane today (Monday) will consider whether exposure to war-related stress can cause illness or disability.

The conference entitled Stress and Challenge, Health and Disease, is being attended by medical experts from throughout the world and will be opened by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Bruce Scott.

The conference, which will run until Wednesday, is being conducted by the Repatriation Medical Authority (RMA). The Authority is an independent body established in 1994 to develop Statements of Principles which determine whether diseases are related to war service.

Mr Scott said that stress and its possible relationship with disease is an issue o f great concern to the veteran community.

“The veteran community has asked the RMA to investigate the possible relationship between stress and/or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes and other diseases,” the Minister said.

“The outcomes o f this conference will help the RMA to develop Statements of Principles about the role of stress in specific diseases.”

Amongst the international experts attending the conference will be Professor Terence Keane, one o f the world’s leading experts in the field o f traumatic stress. Dr Keane is Professor and Vice Chairman of Psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is also the chief o f Psychology and the Director of the National Centre for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder at the Boston VA Medical Centre. He is Immediate Past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress

Studies.

In 1996, he received the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies’ Robert Laufer Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement, the American Psychological Association’s Public Sector honour for Outstanding Research Contribution, and a Fulbright Scholarship.

The Professor’s specific expertise includes the psychological assessment o f war-related PTSD and the application of exposure-based treatments.

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Others attending the conference include Dr George Vaillant, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Research for the Division o f Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Professor Lars Weisaeth, Head of the Department of Military Psychiatry at the Division of Disaster Psychiatry in Oslo, Norway.

Representatives of Ex Service Organisations are attending as observers.

“We have assembled some of the world’s most distinguished experts in this field because o f the importance that the Government places on the health and well-being of the veteran community,” Mr Scott said.

“I look forward to the report on the findings.”

Minister’s Media Adviser: Melissa McKerihan 02 6277 7820 or 0419 607 783

Conference Media Liaison: Annette Holden 07 3309 3382

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