The longitudinal course of PTSD among disaster workers deployed to the World Trade Center following the attacks of September 11th

Judith Cukor, Katarzyna Wyka, Brittany Mello, Megan Olden, Nimali Jayasinghe, Jennifer Roberts, Cezar Giosan, Michael Crane, Joann Difede

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the long-term mental health outcomes of 2,960 nonrescue disaster workers deployed to the World Trade Center site in New York City following the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks. Semistructured interviews and standardized self-report measures were used to assess the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychopathology 4 and 6 years after the attacks. Clinician-measured rates of PTSD and partial PTSD 4-years posttrauma were 8.4% and 8.9%, respectively, in a subsample of 727 individuals. Rates decreased to 5.8% and 7.7% for full and partial PTSD 6 years posttrauma. For the larger sample, self-report scores revealed probable PTSD and partial PTSD prevalence to be 4.8% and 3.6% at 4 years, and 2.4% and 1.8% at 6 years. Approximately 70% of workers never met criteria for PTSD. Although PTSD rates decreased significantly over time, many workers remained symptomatic, with others showing delayed-onset PTSD. The strongest predictors of ongoing PTSD 6 years following 9/11 were trauma history (odds ratio (OR) = 2.27, 95% confidence interval (CI) [1.06, 4.85]); the presence of major depressive disorder 1-2 years following the trauma (OR = 2.80, 95% CI [1.17, 6.71]); and extent of occupational exposure (OR = 1.31, 95% CI [1.13, 1.51]). The implications of the findings for both screening and treatment of disaster workers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-514
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume24
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2011

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