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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 May;62(5):545-52.

Psychopathology among New York city public school children 6 months after September 11.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University-New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032, USA. ch42@columbia.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Children exposed to a traumatic event may be at higher risk for developing mental disorders. The prevalence of child psychopathology, however, has not been assessed in a population-based sample exposed to different levels of mass trauma or across a range of disorders.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine prevalence and correlates of probable mental disorders among New York City, NY, public school students 6 months following the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center attack.

DESIGN:

Survey.

SETTING:

New York City public schools.

PARTICIPANTS:

A citywide, random, representative sample of 8236 students in grades 4 through 12, including oversampling in closest proximity to the World Trade Center site (ground zero) and other high-risk areas.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE:

Children were screened for probable mental disorders with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Predictive Scales.

RESULTS:

One or more of 6 probable anxiety/depressive disorders were identified in 28.6% of all children. The most prevalent were probable agoraphobia (14.8%), probable separation anxiety (12.3%), and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (10.6%). Higher levels of exposure correspond to higher prevalence for all probable anxiety/depressive disorders. Girls and children in grades 4 and 5 were the most affected. In logistic regression analyses, child's exposure (adjusted odds ratio, 1.62), exposure of a child's family member (adjusted odds ratio, 1.80), and the child's prior trauma (adjusted odds ratio, 2.01) were related to increased likelihood of probable anxiety/depressive disorders. Results were adjusted for different types of exposure, sociodemographic characteristics, and child mental health service use.

CONCLUSIONS:

A high proportion of New York City public school children had a probable mental disorder 6 months after September 11, 2001. The data suggest that there is a relationship between level of exposure to trauma and likelihood of child anxiety/depressive disorders in the community. The results support the need to apply wide-area epidemiological approaches to mental health assessment after any large-scale disaster.

PMID:
15867108
DOI:
10.1001/archpsyc.62.5.545
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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