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Disabled and other vulnerable groups more susceptible to terrorism fears
Date:1/21/2009

Research has shown that certain marginalized groups including the mentally ill, the disabled and ethnic minorities such as African Americans and Latinos fare worse than others in the aftermath of natural disasters, suffering disproportionate impoverishment, injuries and fatalities.

Now, a new study by UCLA researchers and colleagues has found that they also experience greater terrorism-related fears and make more behavioral changes based on those fears such as avoiding certain activities than others. These groups also tend to overestimate the threat of terrorism, perceiving the risk as high even when the Homeland Security Advisory System's (HSAS) color-coded alert system rates it lower.

The study, published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, is currently available online at www.ajph.org/cgi/content/full/99/1/168.

"Just like natural disasters have been shown to affect certain groups of people more than others, we're now seeing evidence that terrorism fears are having a disproportionate effect on some of our most vulnerable groups," said leady study author David P. Eisenman, assistant professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "It's important for the public to know this because it shows that terrorism's intention to induce fear and change does work on the most vulnerable. Terrorism affects these groups even when there has not been an event in a long time.

"It also shows," he added, "that the HSAS color-coding is misjudged by citizens, and the same persons who have the most fear and avoid activities are also misjudging it."

The findings are based on random-digit dial surveys conducted in in six languages in Los Angeles County between October 2004 and January 2005. Respondents were asked the color of the c
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Contact: Enrique Rivero
erivero@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2273
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

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