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PTSD Reactions and Functioning of American Airlines Flight Attendants in the Wake of September 11

Lating, Jeffrey M. PhD*; Sherman, Martin F. PhD*; Everly, George S. Jr PhD*†; Lowry, Jenny L. PhD*; Peragine, Traci F. MS*

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: June 2004 - Volume 192 - Issue 6 - p 435-441
doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000126732.00555.4b
Original Articles

The authors explore the psychological reactions and functional coping responses of American Airlines (AA) flight attendants, a unique at-risk group of people in the war on terrorism, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Demographic characteristics and standardized questionnaires, including the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist and the Psychotherapy Outcome Assessment and Monitoring System—Trauma Version, were sent in June 2002 to approximately 26,000 AA flight attendants. Of the 2050 respondents, 18.2% reported symptoms consistent with probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those living alone were 1.48 times more likely to have a probable PTSD diagnosis than those living with someone else. Age or years of service as a flight attendant did not predict probable PTSD; however, marital status did. Substance abuse was not endorsed as a coping strategy. Given the traumatic events experienced by AA flight attendants, and persistent threats of future terrorist attacks, these results reveal that additional assessment and treatment interventions for stress-related symptoms in this population seem warranted.

*Loyola College in Maryland, Department of Psychology; and †Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD.

Data entry and analyses for this study were partially funded by American Airlines.

Preliminary findings were presented as a plenary session at the 7th Annual World Congress of Stress, Trauma, and Coping, February 15, 2003, Baltimore, MD.

Send reprint requests to Dr. Jeffrey M. Lating, Department of Psychology, Loyola College in Maryland, 4501 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21210-2699.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.