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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2003 May;58(3):S146-50.

9-11, personal stress, mental health, and sense of control among older adults.

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  • 1School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri 63104-1314, USA.



We assessed whether the events of 9-11 affected the personal stress, mental health, or sense of control of older adults participating in an ongoing longitudinal study, and whether baseline characteristics were associated with the magnitude of any such changes.


Personal stress, mental health, and sense of control were measured at baseline and at six bimonthly follow-up interviews among 1662 patients. Of these, 437 had the opportunity to complete three interviews before and after 9-11, with 291 (67%) completing all six. We performed graphic comparisons, paired t tests, classification based on standard errors of measurement (SEMs), and multiple linear regressions for patients who completed all six interviews.


No noticeable changes in aggregate trends for personal stress or mental health were associated with 9-11. However, 9-11 was associated with an aggregate decline in sense of control. This decline in sense of control was greater among those who were working for pay, had more comfortable incomes, and reported greater religiosity.


Older adults more closely resembling those who died during 9-11 and those with greater levels of religiosity were most likely to have their sense of control affected by this catastrophic event.

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