Twenty-One—Month Follow-up Study of School-Age Children Exposed to Hurricane Andrew

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Abstract

Objective

To explore the 21-month course of posttraumatic stress symptomatology (PTSS) and psychological morbidity in 30 school-age children (7 to 13 years) after exposure to Hurricane Andrew.

Method

Pynoos' Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Reaction Index and Achenbach's Teacher's Report Form were administered at 8 and 21 months after Hurricane Andrew.

Results

At 21 months 70% of the children endorsed moderate-severe PTSS. The reduction in PTSS was greater for boys than girls. Psychopathology as measured by the Teacher's Report Form increased over the 19-month period. Boys demonstrated significant increases in internalizing symptoms and in Withdrawn, Anxious/Depressed, Social Problems, and Attention Problems scales, and girls showed a significant increase in the Anxious/Depressed scale.

Conclusions

Twenty-one months after exposure to Hurricane Andrew, there were continuing high levels of PTSS and evidence of increasing emotional and behavioral problems. While girls sustained higher levels of PTSS, boys demonstrated higher indices of other psychopathology. The enduring effects of disaster associated with secondary stressors and “traumatic reminders” continue to be etiologically important for continuing psychological morbidity. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1996, 35(3):359–364.

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