Concerns of Capitol Hill staff workers after bioterrorism: Focus group discussions of authorities' response

Carol S North, David E. Pollio, Betty Pfefferbaum, Deborah Megivern, Meena Vythilingam, Elizabeth Terry Westerhaus, Gregory J. Martin, Barry A. Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Systematic studies of mental health effects of bioterrorism on exposed populations have not been carried out. Exploratory focus groups were conducted with an exposed population to provide qualitative data and inform empirical research. Five focus groups of 28 political worker volunteers were conducted 3 months after the October 15, 2001, anthrax attack on Capitol Hill. More than 2000 transcribed focus group passages were categorized using qualitative software. The category with the most items was authorities' response (23% passages), and much of this discussion pertained to communication by authorities. The category with the fewest items was symptoms (4%). Identified issues were less within individuals and more between them and authorities. Risk communication by authorities regarding safety and medical issues was a prominent concern among Capitol Hill office staff workers regarding the anthrax incident on Capitol Hill. This suggests focus on risk communication in developing interventions, but more systematic investigation is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-527
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2005


  • Anthrax
  • Bioterrorism
  • Capitol Hill
  • Mental health
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Psychological

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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