World Trade Center disaster and sensitization to subsequent life stress: A longitudinal study of disaster responders
Purpose. : The current study examined the role of World Trade Center (WTC) disaster exposure (hours spent working on the site, dust cloud exposure, and losing friend/loved one) in exacerbating the effects of post-disaster life stress on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms and overall functioning among WTC responders. Method. : Participants were 18,896 responders (8466 police officers and 10,430 non-traditional responders) participating in the WTC Health Program who completed an initial examination between July, 2002 and April, 2010 and were reassessed an average of two years later. Results.: Among police responders, there was a significant interaction, such that the effect of post-disaster life stress on later PTSD symptoms and overall functioning was stronger among police responders who had greater WTC disaster exposure (beta's=.029 and .054, respectively, for PTSD symptoms and overall functioning). This moderating effect was absent in non-traditional responders. Across both groups, post-disaster life stress also consistently was related to the dependent variables in a more robust manner than WTC exposure. Discussion.: The present findings suggest that WTC exposure may compound post-disaster life stress, thereby resulting in a more chronic course of PTSD symptoms and reduced functioning among police responders. (C) 2015 Elsevier Inc All rights reserved.
School of Medicine
Occupational Medicine, Epidemiology and Prevention