Post-traumatic stress disorder following disasters: A systematic review

Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.
Psychological Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.43). 05/2008; 38(4):467-80. DOI: 10.1017/S0033291707001353
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Disasters are traumatic events that may result in a wide range of mental and physical health consequences. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is probably the most commonly studied post-disaster psychiatric disorder. This review aimed to systematically assess the evidence about PTSD following exposure to disasters. MethodA systematic search was performed. Eligible studies for this review included reports based on the DSM criteria of PTSD symptoms. The time-frame for inclusion of reports in this review is from 1980 (when PTSD was first introduced in DSM-III) and February 2007 when the literature search for this examination was terminated.
We identified 284 reports of PTSD following disasters published in peer-reviewed journals since 1980. We categorized them according to the following classification: (1) human-made disasters (n=90), (2) technological disasters (n=65), and (3) natural disasters (n=116). Since some studies reported on findings from mixed samples (e.g. survivors of flooding and chemical contamination) we grouped these studies together (n=13).
The body of research conducted after disasters in the past three decades suggests that the burden of PTSD among persons exposed to disasters is substantial. Post-disaster PTSD is associated with a range of correlates including sociodemographic and background factors, event exposure characteristics, social support factors and personality traits. Relatively few studies have employed longitudinal assessments enabling documentation of the course of PTSD. Methodological limitations and future directions for research in this field are discussed.

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    • "enough to adequately test the present hypotheses , it would be helpful for future studies to involve much larger and more diverse samples . This sort of diversity is important because individuals may respond quite differently to these sorts of events ( e . g . , men and women have been found to respond differently to potentially traumatic events ; Neria et al . , 2008 ) ."
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    • "Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs following a wide range of extreme life events (APA, 1994; Saigh and Bremner, 1998; Neria et al., 2008; Wittchen et al., 2009). U.S. population surveys reveal lifetime PTSD prevalence rates of 7% to 8% (Keane et al., 2006). "
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    • "There is, however , also some evidence that the correlation between disaster-related bereavement and PTSD may be directly related to the loss, not only by witnessing death or viewing the body, but also by experiencing horrifying imagery regarding the manner of death and the degree of suffering before death (Goenjian et al., 1994). More recently, it is evident that disaster losses may result in a broader range of mental health problems, including psychosomatic pain, functional impairment, and prolonged grief disorder (Neria et al., 2008; Maguen, Neria, Conoscenti, & Litz, 2009). PGD has been reported in 14–76% of bereaved populations after natural and humancaused disasters (Ghaffari-Nejad, Ahmadi- Mousavi, Gandomkar, & Reihani-Kermani, 2007; Johannesson et al., 2009; Kristensen et al., 2009; Neria et al., 2007; Shear, Jackson , Essock, Donahue, & Felton, 2006). "
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