A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide will examine the link between stress and the health of victims of crime.
Birgit Pfitzer, a PhD student with the University of Adelaide’s Psychology Department, is seeking volunteers for the study to see whether victims of crime are at greater risk of developing physical complications such as infections or heart disease.
“Previous research has shown that people who are suffering from long-term stress may be more likely to have a weakened immune system and as a consequence develop health problems,” Ms Pfitzer says.
“Besides the life threatening experience itself, crime victims are exposed to multiple stressors such as legal processes, work incapability and so on.
“This past research has not often looked at victims who may have also suffered from secondary physical health problems as a consequence of crime-related stress and life changes.
“What we want to find out is how the health of people who have been a victim of crime and suffered the associated stress compares with that of those people who haven’t been through that experience.
“By finding this out, we could identify the factors which may be useful to improve people’s immune systems to cope better physically after they have suffered a crime, and to develop psychological strategies beneficial to the health of crime victims.”
Ms Pfitzer’s study will be supervised by Dr Jane Blake-Mortimer, a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide.