Short Term Scientific Missions (STSM)

What is a Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM)?

STSM are aimed at strengthening existing networks and fostering collaborations by facilitating researchers participating in our IS1302 COST Action to visit an institution in another participating COST Country, approved Near Neighbour Country or an approved International Partner Country. A STSM should specifically contribute to our overall scientific objectives, whilst at the same time enable eligible researchers to learn and gain access to specific expertise, instruments and/or methods not available in their own institutions.

STSM facilitates researchers from COST Countries participating in COST Action IS1302 to go to an institution or research centre in another participating COST Country to foster collaboration and to perform empirical research. STSM applicants must be engaged in a research programme as PhD student or postdoctoral fellow or can be employed by, or affiliated to, an institution or legal entity which has within its remit a clear association with performing scientific research. Participation of “Early-Stage Researchers” (ESR) in STSM is particularly encouraged.


For 2015 all the proposals were reviewed and evaluated and eleven applications were approved. All of the STSM will result in publications or other useful material for the Action.

In short, the applicants have the following work plans:

Ms Mareike Eckert will visit the Central Mental Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland from 25/05/2015-29/05/2015

  • Explore, understand and examine factors affecting length of stay in a forensic population in The Netherlands, Ireland and the UK using the Dundrum and a questionnaire about patient characteristics to deepen the understanding of the dynamics between patient characteristics of long stay patients and non-long stay patients. The research might as well provide an insight into factors that might differ between EU countries, their jurisdictions and long stay/non-long stay patients.

Mr Padraic O Flynn will visit the Vitos Klinik für Forensische Psychiatrie Haina, Haina, Germany from 01/06/2015-12/06/2015

  • Investigate approaches to psycho-social interventions available at long stay wards, understanding how psycho-social interventions are devised for patients, comparing the differences between psycho-social interventions on offer between two facilities and gaining insight into service user perspectives on psycho-social interventions.

Dr Luca Castelletti will visit the National Forensic Mental Health Sercive, Central Mental Hospital, Dublin, Ireland from 13/07/2015-26/07/2015

  • Contribute to and broaden the knowledge about (unmet) needs and quality of life of long-term forensic psychiatric patients. For this research the model of the CANFOR will be used to provide adequate assessment of patients perspective on their own recovery and attainment of treatment needs within a forensic environment.

Mr Ian Callaghan will visit the Pompefoundation, Nijmegen, the Netherlands from 03/08/2015-13/08/2015

  • Investigate service user involvement in forensic services in The Netherlands and explore the similarities and differences with that found in forensic services in England. And investigate the recovery orientation of forensic services in The Netherlands and contrast this with the increasing focus on recovery and social inclusion in forensic services in England.

Ms Shazmin Majid will visit the Institute of Institute of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia from 10/08/2015-24/08/2015

  • Desk study to access reports of visits from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) to identify those relevant to forensic institutions and long stay. A framework to group recommendations the CPT has made will be developed to see how these impact on long stay and how they change over time.

Dr Ilaria Lega will visit the Vitos Klinik für Forensische Psychiatrie Haina, Haina, Germany from 01/09/2015-05/09/2015

  • Develop a database to collect already available socio demographic, clinical and criminological data concerning forensic patients and their clinical pathways in Germany, Ireland, UK and The Netherlands to validate findings from a recent study that has been done in Italy, in the European context.

Ms Valentina Campani will visit the UK -  at the invitation of Ian Callaghan, Recovery and Outcomes Manager of Rethink Mental Illness and with the cooperation of Sheena Foster, Carer and member of the Cost Action WG3 and Birgit Völlm, Professor in Forensic Psychiatry and Head of Section Forensic Mental Health Division of Psychiatry and Applied Psychology, School of Medicine at the University of Nottingham from 14/11/2015-24/11/2015. 

  • Exchange of service users’ and carers’ experiences of involvement in secure services in England and a comparison between England and Italy.

Mr Jack Tomlin will visit the long-stay facilities of the Pompestichting in Zeeland and Vught, as well as the Forensic Psychiatry Expertise Centre in Utrecht, the Netherlands from 09/12/2015-22/12/2015.

  • The concept of ‘restrictiveness’ in the forensic psychiatric care setting is often vague. When brought up in conversation, it is not unusual for speakers to inquire further as to what it exactly means. One key aim of this STSM was to visit the Netherlands to ask different interested groups what they thought ‘restrictiveness’ means. Does it refer to the physical confines within which patients reside? The limitations imposed upon them as regards hobbies, personal affects, relationships etc. These questions will be asked of similar individuals in the UK, to further conceptualize ‘restrictiveness’, and to see how or if definitions differ.
  • A second key aim of this STSM was to better understand the legal framework that surrounds the forensic psychiatric care setting in the Netherlands – again, to compare with the UK. Most of this information was received during my trip to the Expertisecentrum Forensische Psychiatrie.

Dr Franco Scarpa will visit the Woenselse Poort in Eindhoven, the Netherlands from 13/12/2015 till 17/12/2015.

  • One of the goals of the COST Action is the improvement in the quality of life and involvement of the users in active participation to their treatment. The final goal is the well-being of the users, the reduction of lenght of the institutional treatment and their recovery to the social life. The visit of the De Woenselse Clinic in Eindhoven allows me to acquire knowledge and experience regarding the participation of ex-clients in the activity of the Clinic.

Dr Allan Seppännen will vist the University of Warwick, John Howard Centre medium secure unit (East-London NHS), Wolfson house low secure unit (East-London NHS), Tamarind Centre medium secure unit (Birmingham and Solihull NHS), Reaside Clinic medium secure unit (Birmingham and Solihull NHS) and Hillis Lodge low secure unit  in the UK from 14/12/2015-18/12/2015. 

  • The focus of this STSM will be to form an understanding about how a secure service can be therapeutically and efficiently run in an urban environment. The information was gathered via informal meetings and conversations with professionals and patients, and through various documents depicting different aspects of the services. The information will be taken into account during the overall planning of the forensic services of Helsinki University Hospital.

Ms Ellen Vorstenbosch will visit the Ospedales Psichiatrici Giudiziari  in Castiglione delle Stiviere and Montelupo, and the Residenze per la Esecuzione della Misura di Sicurezza in Volterra, Italy from 14/12/2015-22/12/2015.

  • The first aim of the STSM will be to gain insight in the conceptualization of QoL for assessment in forensic psychiatric services in Europe. This was done by further exploring the concept of QoL against the background of newly developed forensic psychiatric services in Italy.
  • A secondary aim will be to increase the knowledge of QoL as an outcome measure for service evaluation and (individual) treatment planning in the host institutions of the STSM. This will among others be done by providing a seminar for staff about QoL within a forensic psychiatric context.

Specific information concerning STSM:

  • STSM can have a duration of between 5 days and 90 days
  • If the applicant is a Early Stage Researchers (ESR) the duration can be up to 180 days (ESR definition is: PhD + max 8 years).
  • STSMs need to be carried out in their entirety within a single grant period and within the Action’s lifetime.

A STSM grant is a fixed contribution based on the budget requested by the applicant and the evaluation of the application by the MC Chair and the STSM Coordinator. The aim of this grant is to support the costs associated with the exchange visit. The financial support is limited to cover travel and subsistence expenses and is paid as a grant. The Financial support on offer is a contribution to the overall expenses incurred during the STSM and may not necessarily cover all the associated outgoings.

  • The following funding conditions apply and must be respected:
    • Travel expenses cannot exceed € 500.
    • For accommodation and meal expenses, a maximum € 160 per day can be considered.
    • A grantee can be afforded up to € 2500.
    • For Early Stage Researchers, a maximum amount of € 3500 can be afforded to the grantee.

STSM activities must occur in their entirety within the dates of a specific call.

Before the STSM

In order to receive a STSM grant, the applicant must:

  • Obtain the written agreement of the host institution, before submitting an application;
  • Register for an e-COST profile at;
  • Complete the online application form at;
  • Send an e-mail to the STSM host institution, the MC Chair Peter Braun ( and the STSM coordinator Denise van Eeden (, together with the necessary supporting documents:
    • STSM application form (
    • Letter of invitation/agreement to the applicant from a senior researcher affiliated to the host institution,
    • Letter of support from the home institution,
    • Motivation letter including an overview of the proposed activities that will be performed which must contain a plan of work for the visit highlighting the proposed contribution to the scientific objectives of the Action,
    • Full CV, incl. list of publications;
  • Assessment and Grant Letter: The MC chair and  the STSM Coordinator will perform the scientific and budgetary assessment of the applications considering the Action objectives as outlined in the MoU and define an acceptable funding level;
  • The applicant will be formally notified of the outcome of their STSM application by the STSM coordinator (Denise van Eeden) within 45 days after submission;
  • Within 30 days from the end of the STSM, the successful applicant must submit a scientific report to the host institution and to STSM coordinator (Denise van Eeden). The applicant is also responsible for acquiring an official acceptance letter / email confirming acceptance from a senior researcher affiliated to the host institution formally accepting the report. This formal acceptance of the scientific report has to be sent to the Grant Holder (


After the STSM

The grantee is required to submit a short scientific report to the host institution (for information) and the STSM coordinator (or the MC Chair) for approval within 30 days after the end date of the STSM containing:

  • Purpose of the STSM;
  • Description of the work carried out during the STSM;
  • Description of the main results obtained;
  • Future collaboration with the host institution (if applicable);
  • Foreseen publications/articles resulting from the STSM (if applicable);
  • Confirmation by the host institution of the successful execution of the STSM;
  • Other comments (if any).

The failure to submit the scientific report within 30 days will effectively cancel the grant.

The MC Chair and the STSM coordinator are responsible for approving the scientific report and informing the Grant Holder that the STSM has been successfully accomplished. After receipt of the approval by email, the Grant Holder will execute the payment of the grant.

Please consult the COST Vademecum for more details