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J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Dec;66(6):883-92.

Children's predisaster functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress following Hurricane Andrew.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Florida 33124, USA.


This study examined (a) children's predisaster behavioral and academic functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress (PTS) following Hurricane Andrew and (b) whether children who were exposed to the disaster would display a worsening of prior functioning. Fifteen months before the disaster, 92 4th through 6th graders provided self-reports of anxiety; peers and teachers rated behavior problems (anxiety, inattention, and conduct) and academic skills. Measures were repeated 3 months postdisaster; children also reported PTS symptoms and hurricane-related experiences (i.e., exposure). PTS symptoms were again assessed 7 months postdisaster. At 3 months postdisaster, children's exposure to the disaster, as well as predisaster ratings of anxiety, inattention, and academic skills, predicted PTS symptoms. By 7 months, only exposure, African American ethnicity, and predisaster anxiety predicted PTS. Prior anxiety levels also worsened as a result of exposure to the disaster. The findings have implications for identifying and treating children at risk for stress reactions following a catastrophic disaster.

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