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Mental Health Outcomes in Police Personnel After Hurricane Katrina

West, Christine RN, MSN/MPH; Bernard, Bruce MD, MPH; Mueller, Charles MS; Kitt, Margaret MD, MPH; Driscoll, Richard PhD, MPH; Tak, Sangwoo ScD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: June 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 6 - p 689-695
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181638685
Original Articles

Objective: We examined symptoms of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) personnel who provided law enforcement and relief services to affected communities following Hurricane Katrina.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of mental health outcomes related to personal and work-related exposures of police personnel 8 weeks after the Hurricane.

Results: Of the 912 police personnel who completed the questionnaire, 227 (26%) reported symptoms consistent with depression and 170 (19%) reported symptoms consistent with PTSD. Risk factors associated with PTSD include recovery of bodies, crowd control, assault, and injury to a family member. Depressive symptoms were associated with rare family contact, uninhabitable home, isolation from the NOPD, assault, and injury to a family member.

Conclusions: Police personnel reported symptoms of PTSD and depression associated with work-related and personal factors following Hurricane Katrina.

From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Ms West, Mr Mueller, Drs Bernard, Driscoll, Tak), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations and Field Studies, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Dr Kitt), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Office of the Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Address correspondence to: Christine A. West, RN, MSN/MPH, CDC/NIOSH/DSHEFS, 4676 Columbia Parkway R-10, Cincinnati, OH 45226; E-mail: cawest@cdc.gov.

Copyright © 2008 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine