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August 23, 2020

CIPSRT releases PTSD Glossary

The Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT) has been working on a glossary titled: “Glossary of Terms: A shared understanding of the common terms used to describe psychological trauma.” The Glossary is designed to provide a single source of information, and a shared language around Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). By defining terms we hope to help reduce the stigma around PTSD and other mental health conditions.

CIPSRT, based out of the University of Regina, worked with a group of clinicians and academics across Canada in the field of public safety to identify and define terms that are used around PTSD in the public safety community.

The first version of the Glossary was completed in April 2019 for the National Conference on PTSD to ensure a common understanding among participants as they provided their insights. Written by Drs. R. Nicholas Carleton, Sophie Duranceau, and Alexandra Heber, and developed in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and other partners, the first version of the Glossary included 40 terms and offered definitions for mental health professionals. The current Glossary (Version 2) contains 52 terms (or phrases) associated with posttraumatic stress injuries. For each term there are definitions for mental health professionals and the general public.  The Glossary offers both groups a language to discuss the issue of PTSD.

The Glossary language is essential, because PTSD has become an increasing concern in the public safety community. Research conducted with Public Safety Personnel (PSP) has indicated that 23.2% of a large sample PSP screen positive for PTSD (Carleton, et al., 2018), which is much higher than the diagnosed rate in the general population. The Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act was passed in 2018 to ensure that PSP had “direct and timely access to PTSD support.” We hope the Glossary helps to create more open and consistent communication about PTSD and the trauma that PSP can face in their workplaces. CIPSRT is proud to participate in leading the ongoing development of the Glossary.  We are confident that the Glossary will serve, not only as a source of information but, as a way to continue the conversation around PTSD in public safety personnel.

The field of mental health continues to evolve, with new terminology and ways to express mental health concerns. As a result of constant evolution, the Glossary will be considered a “living document”. The Glossary will be subject to regular review and expansion as research and public awareness change the way we understand PTSD.

Quick Facts

Dr. R. Nicholas Carleton is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Regina, a registered clinical psychologist, and Scientific Director of CIPSRT

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and their partners are working on a federal framework for PTSD.

Associated Links

The Glossary of Terms may be found here

Information about PHAC PTSD efforts may be found here: https: //

For a printable version, please click here: Glossary of Terms Version 2.0_2020

Contact US

As part of the National Research Consortium, CIPSRT serves as the Knowledge Exchange Hub for knowledge synthesis, translation, and exchange that relies upon the best contemporary research evidence supporting an overall mission to help current and former public safety personnel, their leaders, and their families to maintain and improve their mental health and well-being. CIPSRT is a research institute located at the University of Regina.

Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment (CIPSRT)

University of Regina

2 Research Dr.

Regina, SK S4S 7H9

For more information on CIPSRT, please visit: About Us


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