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Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Feb 1;173(3):271-81. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwq372. Epub 2010 Dec 29.

Long-term posttraumatic stress symptoms among 3,271 civilian survivors of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

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New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, USA.


Although the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were the largest human-made disaster in US history, there is little extant research documenting the attacks' consequences among those most directly affected, that is, persons who were in the World Trade Center towers. Data from a cross-sectional survey conducted 2-3 years after the attacks ascertained the prevalence of long-term, disaster-related posttraumatic stress symptoms and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 3,271 civilians who evacuated World Trade Center towers 1 and 2. Overall, 95.6% of survivors reported at least 1 current posttraumatic stress symptom. The authors estimated the probable rate of PTSD at 15.0% by using the PTSD Checklist. Women and minorities were at an increased risk of PTSD. A strong inverse relation with annual income was observed. Five characteristics of direct exposure to the terrorist attacks independently predicted PTSD: being on a high floor in the towers, initiating evacuation late, being caught in the dust cloud that resulted from the tower collapses, personally witnessing horror, and sustaining an injury. Working for an employer that sustained fatalities also increased risk. Each addition of an experience of direct exposure resulted in a 2-fold increase in the risk of PTSD (odds ratio = 2.09, 95% confidence interval: 1.84, 2.36). Identification of these risk factors may be useful when screening survivors of large-scale terrorist events for long-term psychological sequelae.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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