RAISE study protocol: a cross-sectional, multilevel, neurobiological study of resilience after individual stress exposure
Introduction: This paper describes the protocol for an ongoing project funded by the Royal Society, the Resilience After Individual Stress Exposure (RAISE) study; which aims to examine the factors and mechanisms that facilitate resilient functioning after childhood adversity (CA). Methods and analysis: We aim to recruit up to 200 participants. We will use dimension reduction techniques (principal component analysis) on standard-normally transformed individual parameters of mental health, social functioning and CA to calculate a composite measure of adaptive (ie, ‘resilient’) psychosocial functioning. To examine the neuroimmune responses to stress and their relationship with the brain and social environment, we will use a well validated functional MRI task; the Montreal imaging stress task and venepuncture. We will run group or dimensional comparisons in multiple levels of biological and psychological outcomes, as well as mediation and moderation analyses to study how key biological systems (ie, the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis and the immune system) interrelate and interact with brain function and social influences in order to facilitate resilient functioning after CA. We hypothesise that resilient functioning will be facilitated by reduced morning cortisol and cytokine levels before and after the stressor and improved neural responses to such stress, as well as increased gray matter volume in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, enhanced inhibitory control and emotion regulation, and more friendship and family support. Ethics and dissemination: This study has been reviewed and given favourable opinion by the National Research Ethics Service, NRES Committee East of England-Cambridge Central and external reviewers from the Royal Society (RGF\R1\180064 and RGF\EA\180029). The results of the RAISE study will be disseminated through (1) publications in scientific peer reviewed journals, (2) presentations on relevant scientific conferences and meetings, (3) publications and presentations for the general public and (4) through social media.