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Psychol Rep. 2016 Aug;119(1):328-59. doi: 10.1177/0033294116658243. Epub 2016 Jul 7.

A Systematic Review of the Literature on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Victims of Terrorist Attacks.

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Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


This article was aimed at systematically reviewing the literature on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among victims of terrorist attacks. Electronic and hand searches of the literature identified 35 studies addressing PTSD prevalence based on validated diagnostic interviews. Overall, in the year after terrorist attacks, 33% to 39% of direct victims developed PTSD, whereas the percentage of indirect victims with PTSD was lower (4% in the affected community, 5%-6% among emergency, rescue, and recovery workers, and 17%-29% among relatives and friends of the injured or killed victims), but nonetheless above the prevalence in the general population. With the passing of time, a significant reduction of PTSD can be expected in the affected community and in the emergency and rescue personnel, but not in the injured victims, in the relatives and friends of the injured or killed victims, and in nontraditional, more vulnerable disaster workers. The implications of these results for the psychological treatment of terrorism victims are discussed.


posttraumatic stress disorder; terrorism; victims

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