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      Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: a systematic review

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      Psychological Medicine

      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          Background

          Disasters are traumatic events that may result in a wide range of mental and physical health consequences. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is probably the most commonly studied post-disaster psychiatric disorder. This review aimed to systematically assess the evidence about PTSD following exposure to disasters.

          Method

          A systematic search was performed. Eligible studies for this review included reports based on the DSM criteria of PTSD symptoms. The time-frame for inclusion of reports in this review is from 1980 (when PTSD was first introduced in DSM-III) and February 2007 when the literature search for this examination was terminated.

          Results

          We identified 284 reports of PTSD following disasters published in peer-reviewed journals since 1980. We categorized them according to the following classification: (1) human-made disasters ( n=90), (2) technological disasters ( n=65), and (3) natural disasters ( n=116). Since some studies reported on findings from mixed samples (e.g. survivors of flooding and chemical contamination) we grouped these studies together ( n=13).

          Conclusions

          The body of research conducted after disasters in the past three decades suggests that the burden of PTSD among persons exposed to disasters is substantial. Post-disaster PTSD is associated with a range of correlates including sociodemographic and background factors, event exposure characteristics, social support factors and personality traits. Relatively few studies have employed longitudinal assessments enabling documentation of the course of PTSD. Methodological limitations and future directions for research in this field are discussed.

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          Most cited references 91

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          Meta-analysis of risk factors for posttraumatic stress disorder in trauma-exposed adults.

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            Traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder in an urban population of young adults.

            To ascertain the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and risk factors associated with it, we studied a random sample of 1007 young adults from a large health maintenance organization in the Detroit, Mich, area. The lifetime prevalence of exposure to traumatic events was 39.1%. The rate of PTSD in those who were exposed was 23.6%, yielding a lifetime prevalence in the sample of 9.2%. Persons with PTSD were at increased risk for other psychiatric disorders; PTSD had stronger associations with anxiety and affective disorders than with substance abuse or dependence. Risk factors for exposure to traumatic events included low education, male sex, early conduct problems, extraversion, and family history of psychiatric disorder or substance problems. Risk factors for PTSD following exposure included early separation from parents, neuroticism, preexisting anxiety or depression, and family history of anxiety. Life-style differences associated with differential exposure to situations that have a high risk for traumatic events and personal predispositions to the PTSD effects of traumatic events might be responsible for a substantial part of PTSD in this population.
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              Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City.

              The scope of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was unprecedented in the United States. We assessed the prevalence and correlates of acute post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression among residents of Manhattan five to eight weeks after the attacks. We used random-digit dialing to contact a representative sample of adults living south of 110th Street in Manhattan. Participants were asked about demographic characteristics, exposure to the events of September 11, and psychological symptoms after the attacks. Among 1008 adults interviewed, 7.5 percent reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of current PTSD related to the attacks, and 9.7 percent reported symptoms consistent with current depression (with "current" defined as occurring within the previous 30 days). Among respondents who lived south of Canal Street (i.e., near the World Trade Center), the prevalence of PTSD was 20.0 percent. Predictors of PTSD in a multivariate model were Hispanic ethnicity, two or more prior stressors, a panic attack during or shortly after the events, residence south of Canal Street, and loss of possessions due to the events. Predictors of depression were Hispanic ethnicity, two or more prior stressors, a panic attack, a low level of social support, the death of a friend or relative during the attacks, and loss of a job due to the attacks. There was a substantial burden of acute PTSD and depression in Manhattan after the September 11 attacks. Experiences involving exposure to the attacks were predictors of current PTSD, and losses as a result of the events were predictors of current depression. In the aftermath of terrorist attacks, there may be substantial psychological morbidity in the population.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Psychological Medicine
                Psychol. Med.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0033-2917
                1469-8978
                April 2008
                September 06 2007
                April 2008
                : 38
                : 4
                : 467-480
                10.1017/S0033291707001353
                © 2008

                https://www.cambridge.org/core/terms

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