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Psychiatry. 2001 Fall;64(3):202-11.

Television exposure in children after a terrorist incident.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, 920 Stanton L. Young Blvd., WP-3470, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.


This study examined the influence of bomb-related television viewing in the context of physical and emotional exposure on posttraumatic stress symptoms--intrusion, avoidance, and arousal--in middle school students following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Over 2,000 middle school students in Oklahoma City were surveyed 7 weeks after the incident. The primary outcome measures were the total posttraumatic stress symptom score and symptom cluster scores at the time of assessment. Bomb-related television viewing in the aftermath of the disaster was extensive. Both emotional and television exposure were associated with posttraumatic stress at 7 weeks. Among children with no physical or emotional exposure, the degree of television exposure was directly related to posttraumatic stress symptomatology. These findings suggest that television viewing in the aftermath of a disaster may make a small contribution to subsequent posttraumatic stress symptomatology in children or that increased television viewing may be a sign of current distress and that it should be monitored. Future research should examine further whether early symptoms predict increased television viewing and/or whether television viewing predicts subsequent symptoms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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