Trends of probable post-traumatic stress disorder in New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks

Sandro Galea, David Vlahov, Heidi Resnick, Jennifer Ahern, Ezra Susser, Joel Gold, Michael Bucuvalas, Dean Kilpatrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The authors investigated trends in probable post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevalence in the general population of New York City in the first 6 months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Three random digit dialing telephone surveys of adults in progressively larger portions of the New York City metropolitan area were conducted 1 month, 4 months, and 6 months after September 11, 2001. A total of 1,008, 2,001, and 2,752 demographically representative adults were recruited in the three surveys, respectively. The current prevalence of probable PTSD related to the September 11 attacks in Manhattan declined from 7.5% (95% confidence interval: 5.7, 9.3) 1 month after September 11 to 0.6% (95% confidence interval: 0.3, 0.9) 6 months after September 11. Although the prevalence of PTSD symptoms was consistently higher among persons who were more directly affected by the attacks, a substantial number of persons who were not directly affected by the attacks also met criteria for probable PTSD. These data suggest a rapid resolution of most of the probable PTSD symptoms in the general population of New York City in the first 6 months after the attacks. The psychological consequences of a large-scale disaster in a densely populated urban area may extend beyond persons directly affected by the disaster to persons in the general population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)514-524
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Volume158
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 15 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Disasters
  • Disease progression
  • Post-traumatic
  • Stress disorders
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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