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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Nov;38(11):1372-9.

Posttraumatic stress responses in bereaved children after the Oklahoma City bombing.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City 73190-3048, USA.



To investigate the responses of middle and high school students exposed to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing across a spectrum of loss.


A questionnaire measuring exposure, personal consequences, initial response, and current posttraumatic stress and other symptoms was administered to 3,218 students 7 weeks after the explosion.


More than one third of the sample knew someone killed in the explosion. Bereaved youths were more likely than nonbereaved peers to report immediate symptoms of arousal and fear, changes in their home and school environment, and posttraumatic stress symptoms. Retrospective measures of initial arousal and fear predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms at 7 weeks.


The results support the literature addressing the role of initial response in posttraumatic stress symptom development. The study raises concern about the impact of television, and traumatized youths' reactivity to it, in the aftermath of disaster.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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