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J Anxiety Disord. 2009 Dec;23(8):1170-6. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2009.07.023. Epub 2009 Aug 4.

Clinically significant avoidance of public transport following the London bombings: travel phobia or subthreshold posttraumatic stress disorder?

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  • 1King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Department of Psychology, and Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma, London, UK.


Following the London bombings of 7 July 2005 a "screen and treat" program was set up with the aim of providing rapid treatment for psychological responses in individuals directly affected. The present study found that 45% of the 596 respondents to the screening program reported phobic fear of public transport in a screening questionnaire. The screening program identified 255 bombing survivors who needed treatment for a psychological disorder. Of these, 20 (8%) suffered from clinically significant travel phobia. However, many of these individuals also reported symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Comparisons between the travel phobia group and a sex-matched group of bombing survivors with PTSD showed that the travel phobic group reported fewer re-experiencing and arousal symptoms on the Trauma Screening Questionnaire (Brewin et al., 2002). The only PTSD symptoms that differentiated the groups were anger problems and feeling upset by reminders of the bombings. There was no difference between the groups in the reported severity of trauma or in presence of daily transport difficulties. Implications of these results for future trauma response are discussed.

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