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CNS Spectr. 2002 Aug;7(8):575-9.

Disaster mental health services following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing: modifying approaches to address terrorism.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK, USA.


How did the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing differ from prior disasters and what implications did it have for disaster mental health services and service delivery? The federal disaster mental health approach in this country developed largely out of experiences with natural disasters. The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing differed in several important ways, including the large number of human casualties, higher rates of psychopathology, and an extended period of concern due to the criminal investigation and trials, which suggested the need to consider modifications in the program. Outreach was extensive, but psychiatric morbidity of direct victims was greater than that of victims of natural disasters, emphasizing the need for attention to the triage and referral process. Other concerns that warrant consideration include practices related to record keeping and program evaluation.

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