Comparing Stress Responses to Terrorism in Residents of Two Communities Over Time

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Abstract

To explore psychological resilience and recovery following the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, we assessed reactions to the incident in residents of Oklahoma City and a comparison city over 3 years. Concerned that the bombing might have preconditioned Oklahoma City residents to adverse reactions to later events, we also examined psychological responses to the September 11 terrorist attacks on Oklahoma City residents. We surveyed psychological responses to the bombing in residents of Oklahoma City and Indianapolis in 1995, 1996, and 1998 and psychological responses to the September 11 attacks in Oklahoma City as part of a national sample in 2002. Univariate and bivariate analyses were conducted. Oklahoma City residents reported significantly more posttraumatic and general stress compared to Indianapolis residents in the months following the bombing, but differences decreased over time. Oklahoma City respondents were no different from the rest of the nation on most measures after the September 11 attacks. Results suggest optimism regarding psychological resilience and recovery from terrorism in affected communities and nationally.

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