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

Ahern, Jennifer MPH*; Galea, Sandro MD, DrPH*†; Resnick, Heidi PhD; Vlahov, David PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: March 2004 - Volume 192 - Issue 3 - p 217-226
doi: 10.1097/
Original Articles

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.

*New York Academy of Medicine, Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, New York, NY; †Division of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York, NY; and ‡National Crime Victims’ Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Sandro Galea, Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies, Room 556, New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10029-5283.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.