A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Media Contact and Posttraumatic Stress in Employees of New York City Area Businesses after the September 11 Attacks


Media Contact and Posttraumatic Stress in Employees of New York City Area Businesses after the September 11 Attacks

Abstract: 

Objective: The objective of this study was to examine associations between media contact and posttraumatic stress in a sample with a large number of individuals who were directly exposed to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks and to compare outcomes in exposed and unexposed participants.

Methods: Structured interviews and questionnaires were administered to a volunteer sample of 254 employees of New York City businesses 35 months after the attacks to document disaster trauma exposures, posttraumatic stress outcomes, and media contact and reactions.

Results: Media variables were not associated with psychopathological outcomes in exposed participants, but media contact in the first week after the attacks and feeling moderately/extremely bothered by graphic 9/11 media images were associated with re-experiencing symptoms in both the exposed and unexposed participants. Feeling moderately/extremely bothered by graphic media images was associated with hyperarousal symptoms in exposed participants.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that media contact did not lead to psychopathology in exposed individuals, although it was associated with normative distress in both exposure groups. Because of the potential for adverse effects associated with media contact, clinicians and public health professionals are encouraged to discuss concerns about mass trauma media contact with their patients and the public at large.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Pfefferbaum, Betty, Jayme Palka, and Carol S. North. 2020. "Media Contact and Posttraumatic Stress in Employees of New York City Area Businesses after the September 11 Attacks." Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness (September). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32895077/

START Author(s): 
Betty Pfefferbaum
Publication URL: 
Visit Website

Additional Info

Research Area: 
Regions: