Anticipated Attitudes for Providing Psychological Services to Survivors of Major Terrorist Incidents

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This study identifies mental health care providers' anticipated attitudes for providing psychological services to disaster survivors. The shortcomings associated with mitigating trauma among survivors during the aftermath of September 11, 2001, serve as critical motivating factors for this study. Using social–cognitive theory, this study attempts to identify motivational patterns which may be associated with specific personal attributes of mental health providers who anticipate providing care to others during a disaster. To better predict the willingness and ability of health care professionals to provide services to survivors, this study surveyed licensed mental health professionals (N = 255) employed in group practices, hospitals, universities, and community clinics from nine cities in the United States. Multiple regression analysis and multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) revealed that anxiety and proximity to major disasters are associated with mental health clinicians' unwillingness and inability to provide care to traumatized survivors. Additionally, as participants' level of religious convictions increased, so did their willingness and ability to provide postdisaster services. Supplemental analyses demonstated that under certain circumstances, 51.6% of the survey participants would be unwilling to provide post disaster services, even though 36.8% of the respondents reported personal or professional experiences working with victims of previous terrorist attacks. The results further indicated that 17% of the participants held certifications from the American Red Cross Disaster Mental Health Services. American universities should (a) expand their graduate psychology curriculum to include disaster mental health courses, (b) advocate mental health care via the Internet, and (c) promote disaster mental health care journalism.

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