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Can J Psychiatry. 2005 Mar;50(3):137-43.

Posttraumatic stress disorder and general psychopathology in children and adolescents following a wildfire disaster.

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  • 1Kids in Mind Research: The Mater Center for Service Research in Mental Health, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



To report on the use of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index (PTSD-RI) and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in identifying children and adolescents who may require psychological interventions following exposure to a wildfire disaster.


Six months after a wildfire disaster, we conducted a school-based program to screen for wildfire-related events, such as exposure to and perception of threat, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and general psychopathology.


The screening battery was completed by 222 children (mean age 12.5 years, SD 2.48; range 8 to 18 years). Severe or very severe PTSD was reported by 9.0% of students, while 22.6% scored in the abnormal range on the Emotional Symptoms subscale of the SDQ. Younger children and individuals with greater exposure to and perception of threat experienced higher levels of PTSD and general psychopathology. Female students reported a greater perception of threat but did not report higher levels of PTSD or other symptoms.


Screening was well received by students, parents, and staff and proved feasible in the postdisaster environment. The PTSD-RI and SDQ demonstrated different individual risk associations and functioned as complementary measures within the screening battery. The identification of children at greatest risk of mental health morbidity enabled service providers to selectively target limited mental health resources.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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