Current Psychiatry Reports

, 16:464 | Cite as

Disaster Media Coverage and Psychological Outcomes: Descriptive Findings in the Extant Research

  • Betty Pfefferbaum
  • Elana Newman
  • Summer D. Nelson
  • Pascal Nitiéma
  • Rose L. Pfefferbaum
  • Ambreen Rahman
Disaster Psychiatry (CS North and B Pfefferbaum, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Disaster Psychiatry


This review of the literature on disaster media coverage describes the events, samples, and forms of media coverage (television, newspapers, radio, internet) studied and examines the association between media consumption and psychological outcomes. A total of 36 studies representing both man-made and natural events met criteria for review in this analysis. Most studies examined disaster television viewing in the context of terrorism and explored a range of outcomes including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caseness and posttraumatic stress (PTS), depression, anxiety, stress reactions, and substance use. There is good evidence establishing a relationship between disaster television viewing and various psychological outcomes, especially PTSD caseness and PTS, but studies are too few to draw definitive conclusions about the other forms of media coverage that have been examined. As media technology continues to advance, future research is needed to investigate these additional media forms especially newer forms such as social media.


Disaster Disaster media coverage Internet Mass media Media Media coverage News Newspaper Posttraumatic stress Posttraumatic stress disorder Radio Social media Television Terrorism Traditional media 


Acknowledgments and Disclosures

Points of view in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of Phoenix Community College, the University of Missouri; the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, or the University of Tulsa.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

None of the authors of this manuscript report any actual or potential conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betty Pfefferbaum
    • 1
    • 2
  • Elana Newman
    • 3
  • Summer D. Nelson
    • 3
  • Pascal Nitiéma
    • 4
    • 5
  • Rose L. Pfefferbaum
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  • Ambreen Rahman
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of MedicineUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  2. 2.Terrorism and Disaster CenterUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, The University of Tulsa Institute of Trauma, Adversity, and InjusticeThe University of TulsaTulsaUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of MedicineUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  5. 5.Terrorism and Disaster CenterUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA
  6. 6.Terrorism and Disaster CenterUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  7. 7.Department of Liberal ArtsPhoenix Community College (Faculty Emeritus)PhoenixUSA
  8. 8.EdmondUSA
  9. 9.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, College of MedicineUniversity of Oklahoma Health Sciences CenterOklahoma CityUSA

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