Research

Research

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Dr. Brand has written numerous articles and book chapters on topics related to trauma, attachment, and adjustment. Her research focuses on assessing and treating trauma disorders.

Treatment Outcome Research

Dr. Brand is the Principal Investigator on a prospective, naturalistic longitudinal international treatment outcome study of dissociative disorders. This study, the Treatment of Patients with Dissociative Disorders (TOP DD), is the largest and and only international prospective treatment study of dissociative disorders to date. Her collaborators include Frank Putnam, M.D., Ruth Lanius, M.D., Ph.D., Richard Loewenstein, M.D., Catherine Classen, Ph.D., Clare Pain, M.D., Scot McNary, Ph.D., and Amie Myrick, M.A., L.C.P.C. Twelve publications have been published based on the TOP DD study as well as dozens of papers presented at international conferences. The TOP DD participants were 280 patients with dissociative disorder and 292 therapists from 19 countries.

The cross-sectional results showed that patients in the later stages of treatment had fewer symptoms of dissociation, PTSD, and general distress; fewer recent hospitalizations; and better adaptive functioning than those in the early stages of treatment (Brand et al., 2009). The longitudinal results indicated that patients showed less dissociation, PTSD, general distress, depression, suicide attempts, self-harm, dangerous behaviors, drug use, physical pain, and hospitalizations as well as improved functioning over 30 months of treatment (Brand et al., 2013). Participants were more frequently involved in volunteer jobs and/or attending school and socializing, and reported feeling good, as treatment progressed.

The TOP DD research team is currently conducting an internet-based psychoeducational intervention for individuals who have severe dissociative disorders. This study is called the TOP DD Network study as it is a web-based program. Both therapists and dissociative clients participate together with the goals being to teach patients how to improve their safety, and use healthy ways of coping with emotions and dissociation. At this time, we are no longer recruiting participants for this study, but please check back for future updates.

To learn more about the TOP DD Network study, visit: https://topddstudy.com/

Assessment Research

1. Forensic Assessment Research. Dr. Brand’s research on distinguishing genuine from feigned dissociative disorders has contributed to a growing recognition that individuals with dissociative disorders are often inaccurately classified by current psychological tests and interviews as exaggerating or feigning psychological disorders. For example, one of her studies found that the SIRS (a “gold standard” forensic interview) misclassified approximately one third of individuals with dissociative disorders as likely feigning psychological disorders. This study was one of the studies that led the author of the SIRS, Richard Rogers, Ph.D., to develop the updated SIRS-2 that is not as prone to misclassifying dissociative disorders and complex trauma patients. This research is ongoing with publications in progress. Thus far, four studies have been published based on this study and another is in press. One of the papers (Brand & Chasson, 2014) shows which MMPI-2 scales best differentiate genuine from feigned dissociative disorders. Another paper illustrates which of the validity scales on the PAI are valid with severely dissociative patients (Stadnik, Brand, & Savoca, 2013).

2. Distinguishing Dissociative Disorders from Borderline Personality Disorder and Psychotic Disorders. Dr. Brand has collaborated with Judith Armstrong, Ph.D. and Richard Loewenstein, M.D. on Rorschach research that has proven useful in distinguishing dissociative patients from those with borderline personality disorder and psychotic disorders. Using apriori, theoretically and empirically derived hypotheses, the researchers found that dissociative patients show greater self-reflection and logical thinking along with perceiving others as potentially collaborative despite a high level of traumatic intrusions.

Support Dr. Brand’s Research

Research investigating how to accurately assess traumatized and dissociative individuals is of great importance because much of the research on psychological assessment has not been conducted using individuals traumatized throughout childhood (sometimes referred to as complex trauma). As a result, current test and psychological interviews may misclassify individuals with complex trauma-related difficulties as feigning or exaggerating psychological problems, or as having psychotic or borderline disorders. Most psychological tests and interviews do not detect dissociative disorders or complex trauma. It is critical that assessment research is conducted using complex trauma survivors as participants so that valid and reliable data is developed for interpreting tests results for these individuals.

It is also critical that treatment outcome studies on dissociative disorders are conducted. Research using rigorous designs is needed to provide stronger empirical support for the best treatment methods for this under-studied and highly symptomatic group of individuals.

If you would like to support Dr. Brand’s research, you may make a tax-deductible charitable donation through Towson University’s Foundation. Information about this option is available here: https://towson.givecorps.com/projects/2213-research-enrichment-treatment-of-patients-with-dd.

Thank you for your consideration!