AJPH First Look, published online ahead of print Oct 30, 2007
We examined the effects of exposure to or interpersonal loss resulting from a terrorist attack on posttraumatic stress and alcohol consumption after we controlled for psychiatric history assessed before the attack.
In regression models, interpersonal loss and past major depression, but not proximity to the World Trade Center, predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms. Proximity and past alcohol dependence, but not interpersonal loss, predicted high levels of post–September 11 alcohol consumption. Past alcohol dependence did not modify the proximity–drinking relationship, and past major depression did not modify the loss–posttraumatic stress relationship.
Participants’ responses to September 11 were specific to their type of exposure and not predetermined by their psychiatric history. A better understanding of responses to traumatic events should assist more-effective prevention and intervention efforts.
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