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J Community Psychol. 2005 Mar;33(2):175-190.

Stress and Well-Being in the Aftermath of the World Trade Center Attack: the Continuing Effects of a Communitywide Disaster.

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The New York Academy of Medicine.


In this study, we examine the relationship between exposure to the World Trade Center disaster (WTCD) and the well-being of adults living in New York City (NYC) at the time of the attacks by using a stress process model. One year after the attacks, we conducted a telephone survey of a cross-sectional random sample of city residents with an oversample of residents who had received mental health treatment since the attacks (N = 2,368). The survey gathered information about respondents' demographic characteristics, exposure to the WTCD, other stressful events, and social psychological resources. The dependent variable (health status) was measured by using the Short Form-12 (SF-12) mental health and physical health scales. Overall, the greater the exposure to the events surrounding the WTCD, the poorer the person's psychological well-being, even after controlling for demographic characteristics, other stressors, and social psychological resources. Exposure was only weakly related to physical well-being, once other factors were taken into account. The findings clearly show that individuals who experienced greater exposure to the WTCD have more psychological problems than those who had less exposure 1 year after the attacks. Exposure did not seem to have such severe consequences for physical well-being. Thus, our study supports the continuation of mental health services to survivors of a community disaster well beyond the first year post disaster.

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