New York City young adults’ psychological reactions to 9/11: findings from the Reach for Health longitudinal study

  • Gail Agronick
  • Ann Stueve
  • Sue Vargo
  • Lydia O’Donnell
Original Paper

Abstract

This research examines psychological distress among 955 economically disadvantaged New York City residents surveyed during high school and again after the September 11th terrorist attacks (9/11), when they were young adults. As part of the longitudinal Reach for Health study, young adult surveys were conducted from 6–19 months post-9/11 (average 8 months), providing opportunity to assess types of exposures and psychological distress, including symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, hopelessness, and anger. Regressions of psychological distress on 9/11 exposure were performed, controlling for high school distress, prior exposure to violence victimization, and socio-demographic characteristics. Exposure to 9/11 was positively associated with anger, hopelessness, and PTSD symptoms and a measure of global distress. The relationship was greater among women for PTSD symptoms. Although those who reported high school distress also reported more distress in young adulthood, prior psychological distress did not moderate the relationship between exposure and psychological outcomes. Greater exposure is related to distress among those who, during high school, reported lower distress, as well as among those who reported prior greater distress.

Keywords

September 11th Terrorism Psychological distress Ethnic/racial minority Longitudinal PTSD Symptoms 

References

  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Beck, A. T., Weismann, A., & Lester, D. (1974). The measurement of pessimism: The hopelessness scale. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74, 861–865.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bell, C. C. (1997). Stress-related disorders in African-American children. Journal of the National Medical Association, 89, 335–340.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Boscarino, J. A., Galea, S., Adams, R. E., Ahern, J., Resnick, H., & Vlahov, D. (2004). Mental health service and medication use in New York City after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack. Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, 55, 274–283.Google Scholar
  5. Breslau, N., Chilcoat, H. D., Kessler, R. C., & Davis, G. C. (1999). Previous exposure to trauma and PTSD effects of subsequent trauma: Results from the Detroit Area Survey of Trauma. American Journal of Psychiatry, 56, 902–907.Google Scholar
  6. Breslau, N., Davis, G. C., & Andreski, P. (1995). Risk factors for PTSD-related traumatic events: A prospective analysis. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 529–535.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Breslau, N., Davis, G. C., Andreski, P., & Peterson, E. (1991). Traumatic events and posttraumatic stress disorder in an urban population of young adults. Archives of General Psychiatry, 48, 216–222.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Breslau, N., Wilcox, H. C., Storr, C. L., Lucia, V. C., & Anthony, J. C. (2004). Trauma exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder: A study of youths in urban America. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 81, 530–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brook, J. S., Balka, E. B., Abernathy, T., & Hamburg, B. A. (1994). Sequence of sexual behavior and its relationship to other problem behaviors in African American and Puerto Rican adolescents. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 155, 107–114.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cardenas, J., Williams, K., Wilson, J. P., Fanouraki, G., & Singh, A. (2003). PSTD, major depressive symptoms, and substance abuse following September 11, 2001, in a midwestern university population. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 5, 15–28.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Chen, H., Chung, H., Chen, T., Fang, L., & Chen, J.-P. (2003). The emotional distress in a community after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. Community Mental Health Journal, 39, 157–165.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DeLisi, L. E., Maurizio, A., Yost, M., Papparozzi, C. F., Fulchino, C., Katz, C. L., Altesman, J., Biel, M., Lee, J., & Stevens, P. (2003). A survey of New Yorkers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. American Journal of Psychiatry, 160, 780–783.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Derogatis, L. R. (1982). The brief symptom inventory (BSI): Administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis: National Computer Systems, Inc.Google Scholar
  14. Foa, E. B., & Riggs, D. S. (2001). Brief Recovery Program (BRP) for Trauma Survivors. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved July 20, 2005 from http://ptsd.factsforhealth.org/brp.pdf#search=‘ptsd.factsforhealth.org/brp.pdf’.Google Scholar
  15. Foa, E. B., Riggs, D. S., Dancu, C. V., & Rothbaum, B. O. (1993). Reliability and validity of a brief instrument for assessing post-traumatic disorder. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 6, 459–473.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Felton, C. J. (2002). Project Liberty: A public health response to New Yorkers’ mental health needs arising from the World Trade Center terrorist attacks. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 79, 429–433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Florsheim, P., Sumida, E., McCann, C., Winstanley, M., Fukui, R., Seefeldt, T., & Moore, D. (2003). The transition to parenthood among young African American and Latino couples: relational predictors of risk for parental dysfunction. Journal of Family Psychology, 17, 65–79.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ford, C. A., Udry, J. R., Gleiter, K., & Chantala, K. (2003). Reactions of young adults to September 11, 2001. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157, 572–578.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Galea, S., Ahern, J., Resnick, H., Kilpatrick, D., Bucuvalas, M., Gold, J., & Vlahov, D. (2002a). Psychological sequelae of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. New England Journal of Medicine, 346, 982–987.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Galea, S., Resnick, H., Ahern, J., Gold, J., Bucuvalas, M., Kilpatrick, D., Stuber, J., & Vlahov, D. (2002b). Posttraumatic stress disorder in Manhattan, New York City, after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine, 79, 340–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Galea, S., Vlahov, D., Resnick, H., Ahern, J., Susser, E., Gold, J., Bucuvalas, M., & Kilpatrick, D. (2003). Trends of probable post-traumatic stress disorder in New York City after the September 11 terrorist attacks. American Journal of Epidemiology, 158, 514–524.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hall, M. J., Norwood, A. E., Ursano, R. J., Fullerton, C. S., & Levinson, C. J. (2002). Psychological and behavioral impacts of bioterrorism. PTSD Research Quarterly, 13, 1–3.Google Scholar
  23. Hess, C., Papas, M. A., & Black, M. M. (2002) Resilience among African American adolescent mothers: Predictors of positive parenting in early infancy. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 27, 619–629.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hines-Martin, V., Malone, M., Kim, S., Brown-Piper, A. (2003). Barriers to mental health care access in an African American Population. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 24, 237–256.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Joseph, J. (1996). School factors and delinquency: A study of African American youths. Journal of Black Studies, 26, 340–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kovacs, M. (1985). The Children’s Depression, Inventory (CDI). Psychopharmacology Bulletin, 21, 995–998.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Lovejoy, D. W., Diefenbach, G. J., Licht, D. J., & Tolin, D. F. (2003). Tracking levels of psychiatric distress associated with the terrorist events of September 11, 2001: A review of the literature. Journal of Insurance Medicine, 35, 114–124.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Miller, A. M., & Heldring, M. (2004). Mental health and primary care in a time of terrorism: Psychological impact of terrorist attacks. Families, Systems, & Health, 22, 7–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Moses, A. (1999). Exposure to violence, depression, and hostility in a sample of inner city highschool youth. Journal of Adolescence, 11, 21–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Newman, R. (2005). APA’s resilience initiative. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 36, 227–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nitz, K., Ketterlinus, R. D., & Brandt, L. J. (1995) The role of stress, social support, and family environment in adolescent mothers’ parenting. Journal of Adolescent Research, 10, 358–382.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Norris, F. H. (1992). Epidemiology of trauma: Frequency and impact of different potentially traumatic events on different demographic groups. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 409–418.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Norris, F. H. (2002). Psychosocial consequences of disasters. PTSD Research Quarterly, 13, 1–3.Google Scholar
  34. Norris, F. H., Friedman, M. J., & Watson, P. J. (2002a). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part II Summary and implications of the disaster mental health research. Psychiatry, 2002 Fall, 65, 240–60.Google Scholar
  35. Norris, F. H., Friedman, M. J., Watson, P. J., Byrne, C. M., Diaz, E., & Kaniasty, K. (2002b). 60,000 disaster victims speak: Part I. An empirical review of the empirical literature, 1981–2001. Psychiatry, 2002 Fall, 65, 207–239.Google Scholar
  36. North, C. S., & Pfefferbaum, B. (2002). Research on the mental health effects of terrorism. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 633–636.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. O’Donnell, B. L., O’Donnell, C. R., & Stueve, A. (2001). Early sexual initiation and subsequent sex-related risks among urban minority youth: the reach for health study. Family Planning Perspectives, 33, 268–275.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. O’Donnell, L. N., Duran, R. H., San Doval, A., Breslin, M. J., Juhn, G. M., & Stueve, A. (1997). Obtaining written parent permission for school-based health surveys of urban young adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health: Official Publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 21, 376–383.Google Scholar
  39. Pulcino, T., Galea, S., Ahern, J., Resnick, H., Foley, M., & Vlahov, D. (2003). Posttraumatic stress in women after the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. Journal of Women’s Health, 12, 809–820.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rasinski, K. A, Berktold, J., Smith, T. W., & Albertson, B. L. (2002). America Recovers: A follow-up to a national study of public response to the september 11th terrorist attacks. Chicago: National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago.Google Scholar
  41. Rudenstine, S., Galea, S., Ahern, J., Felton, C., & Vlahov, D. (2003). Awareness and perceptions of a communitywide mental health program in New York City after September 11. Psychiatric Services: A Journal of the American Psychiatric Association, 54, 1404–1406.Google Scholar
  42. Schlenger, W. E., Caddell, J. M., Ebert, L., Jordan, B. K., Rourke, K. M., Wilson, D., Thalji, L., Dennis, J. M., Fairbank, J. A., & Kulka, R. A. (2002). Psychological reactions to terrorist attacks: Findings from the National Study of Americans’ Reactions to September 11. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 581–588.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Schuster, M. A., Stein, B. D., Jaycox, L. H., Collins, R. L., Marshall, G. N., Elliott, M. N., Zhou, A. J., Kanouse, D. E., Morrison, J. L., & Berry, S. H. (2001). A national survey of stress reactions after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. New England Journal of Medicine, 345, 1507–1512.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schwab-Stone, M. E., Ayers, T. S., Kasprow, W., Voyce, C., Barone, C., Shriver, T., & Weissberg, R. (1995). No safe haven: A study of violence exposure in an urban community. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 1343–1352.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Schwab-Stone, M., Chen, C., Greenberger, E., Silver, D., Lichtman, J., & Voyce, C. (1999). No safe haven II: The effects of violence exposure on urban youth. Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 359–367.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Sciancalepore, R., & Motta, R. W. (2004). Gender related correlates of posttraumatic stress symptoms in a World Trade Center tragedy sample. International Journal of Emergency Mental Health, 6, 15–24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Silver, R. C., Holman, E. A., McIntosh, D. N., Poulin, M., & Gil-Rivas, V. (2002). Nationwide longitudinal study of psychological responses to September 11. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 1235–1244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Silver, R. C., Poulin, M., Holman, E. A., McIntosh, D. N., Gil-Rivas, V., & Pizzaro, J. (2004). Exploring the myths of coping with a national trauma: A longitudinal study of responses to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment & Trauma, 9, 129–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Silver, R. C., Poulin, M., Holman, E. A., McIntosh, D. N., Gil-Rivas, V., & Pizzaro, J. (2006). Coping with a National Trauma: A nationwide longitudinal study of responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In Y. Neria, R. Gross, R. Marshall, & E. Susser (Eds.), September 11, 2001: Treatment, research and public mental health in the wake of a terrorist attack (pp. 45–70). NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  50. Sims, A. C. P., & Sims, D. (1998). The phenomenology of post-traumatic stress disorder: A symptomatic study of 70 victims of psychological trauma. Psychopathology, 31, 96–112.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stein, B. D., Elliott, M. N., Jaycox, L. H., Collins, R. L., Berry, S. H., Klein, D. J., & Schuster, M. A. (2004). A national longitudinal study of the psychological consequences of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: reactions, impairment, and help-seeking. Psychiatry, 67, 105–117.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Stein, M. B., Walker, J. R., Hazen, A. L., & Forde, D. R. (1997). Full and partial posttraumatic stress disorder: Findings from a community survey. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1114–1119.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  53. Stephenson, J. (2001). Medical, mental health communities mobilize to cope with terror’s psychological aftermath. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 286, 1823–1825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Stuber, J., Galea, S., Ahern, J., Blaney, S. & Fuller, C. (2003). The association between multiple domains of discrimination and self-assessed health: A multilevel analysis of Latinos and Blacks in four low-income New York City neighborhoods. Health Services Research, 38, 1475–1677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Vazsonyi, A. T., & Flannery, D. J. (1997). Early adolescent delinquent behaviors: Associations with family and school domains. Journal of Early Adolescence, 17, 271–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Woodwards, A. M., Divinell, A. D., & Arons, B. S. (1992). Barriers to mental health care for Hispanic Americans: A literature review and discussion. Journal of Mental Health Administration, 19, 224–235.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail Agronick
    • 1
  • Ann Stueve
    • 1
  • Sue Vargo
    • 1
  • Lydia O’Donnell
    • 1
  1. 1.Education Development Center, Inc.NewtonUSA

Personalised recommendations