Television Images and Probable Posttraumatic Stress Disorder After September 11: The Role of Background Characteristics, Event Exposures, and Perievent Panic

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Abstract

Television viewing has been associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms after disasters and traumas; we examined characteristics that may explain this association among New Yorkers after September 11, 2001. Among 2001 respondents to a random-digit dial telephone survey conducted 4 months after September 11, people who viewed more television images in the 7 days after September 11 had more probable PTSD. People in the highest third of viewing had a 2.32 times greater odds of probable PTSD after September 11 compared with people in the lowest third of viewing; after adjustment for explanatory variables, the relative odds of probable PTSD were 1.66. Adjustment for perievent panic accounted for 44% of the reduction in association between television and probable PTSD, suggesting that perievent emotional reactions may play an important role in the television and psychopathology association. Television may merit consideration as a potential exposure to a traumatic event.

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