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Do Direct Survivors of Terrorism Remaining in the Disaster Community Show Better Long-Term Outcome than Survivors Who Relocate?


Little is known about whether, compared to terrorism survivors who relocated to another area, better long-term outcome occurs in terrorism survivors who remain in the community, which may offer social support and formal services as well as ongoing trauma reminders and adversities. A cross-sectional telephone survey of OKC bombing survivors 19 years later assessed current symptoms of PTSD, anxiety and depression; posttraumatic growth; life satisfaction; medical conditions; alcohol use and smoking. We interviewed 138 survivors–114 (82.6%) remaining in OKC area and 24 (17.4%) relocated. Remaining survivors had higher PTS, anxiety and depression and lower posttraumatic growth scores than relocated survivors, and more remaining survivors disagreed with being satisfied with life, with differences not statistically significant. Groups did not differ in major medical problems except heart disease, not significantly different after adjusting for gender. Groups did not differ significantly in smoking or alcohol use. Contrary to expectations, remaining within the community after terrorism was not associated with better long-term psychological or medical outcome. Possible factors relevant to the literature are discussed.

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Authors wish to thank Vandana Varma, M.D., Amy Sue Goodin, Ph.D., and Paul Heath, Ph.D., for their contributions to this project.


This project was partly funded by the Arnold and Bess Ungerman Endowed Chair in Psychiatry.

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Correspondence to Phebe Tucker.

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Tucker, P., Pfefferbaum, B., Nitiéma, P. et al. Do Direct Survivors of Terrorism Remaining in the Disaster Community Show Better Long-Term Outcome than Survivors Who Relocate?. Community Ment Health J 54, 429–437 (2018).

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