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More than 3,000 survivors of the WTC attacks experience long-term post-traumatic stress disorder
Date:1/7/2011

f survivors above the impact zone in 2 WTC, reported that they began evacuation after the first plane hit 1WTC. Overall, 60.8% were caught in the dust cloud from the tower collapses. Ninety-four percent witnessed horror, and 32% sustained an injury, ranging from a concussion to a sprain or strain. The overwhelming majority of survivors reported that the WTC was their usual place of work (95.8%).

The researchers found that women and minorities in particular were at an increased risk of PTSD, although the strongest demographic risk factor for PTSD in the study was low income. Survivors with incomes less than $25,000 per year were eight times more likely to have PTSD than those earning more than $100,000 per year.

The study was based on interviews with 3,271 English-speaking, civilian survivors who are enrolled in the WTC Health Registry, the largest post-disaster public health registry in U.S. history, tracking the health of more than 71,000 people directly exposed to the WTC disaster. Eligibility criteria for this particular study included a minimum age of 18 years, physical presence in either Tower 1 or 2 between the first plane impact and subsequent tower collapses, and no participation in WTC rescue/recovery activities.

In terms of other demographic characteristics of this cohort of survivors, 58.5% were men and 68.2% were white. However, the risk of PTSD was highest among Hispanics and African Americans. Sixty-seven percent of the survivors were college graduates and 60% had an annual household income greater than $75,000. Sixty-seven percent worked for an employer that sustained fatalities on 9/11.

Because this study targeted those with the greatest direct exposure, the burden of posttraumatic stress was higher for these survivors than that documented in previous 9/ 11 studies, and the number of cases of posttraumatic stress observed was directly related to the number of direct exposures reported.

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Contact: Stephanie Berger
sb2247@columbia.edu
212-305-4372
Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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