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Prev Med. 2011 Dec;53(6):359-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.08.034. Epub 2011 Sep 10.

Comparison of health outcomes among affiliated and lay disaster volunteers enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry.

Author information

  • 1New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, World Trade Center Health Registry, 2 Gotham Center, 42-09 28th Street, 7th Floor, Queens, NY 11101, USA. idebchou@health.nyc.gov

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Volunteers (non-professional rescue/recovery workers) are universally present at man-made and natural disasters and share experiences and exposures with victims. Little is known of their disaster-related health outcomes.

METHODS:

We studied 4974 adult volunteers who completed the World Trade Center Health Registry 2006-07 survey to examine associations between volunteer type (affiliated vs. lay) and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); new or worsening respiratory symptoms; post-9/11 first diagnosis of anxiety disorder, depression, and/or PTSD; and asthma or reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS). Affiliated volunteers reported membership in a recognized organization. Lay volunteers reported no organizational affiliation and occupations unrelated to rescue/recovery work. Adjusted odds ratios (OR(adj)) were calculated using multinomial regression.

RESULTS:

Lay volunteers were more likely than affiliated volunteers to have been present in lower Manhattan, experience the dust cloud, horrific events and injury on 9/11 and subsequently to report unmet healthcare needs. They had greater odds of early post-9/11 mental health diagnosis (OR(adj) 1.6; 95% CI: 1.4-2.0) and asthma/RADS (1.8; 1.2-2.7), chronic PTSD (2.2; 1.7-2.8), late-onset PTSD (1.9; 1.5-2.5), and new or worsening lower respiratory symptoms (2.0; 1.8-2.4).

CONCLUSIONS:

Lay volunteers' poorer health outcomes reflect earlier, more intense exposure to and lack of protection from physical and psychological hazards. There is a need to limit volunteers' exposures during and after disasters, as well as to provide timely screening and health care post-disaster.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

PMID:
21930152
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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