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

Betty Pfefferbaum, Jayme Palka, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
StateAccepted/In press - 2020


  • disaster trauma exposure
  • Key Words:
  • media
  • posttraumatic stress
  • September 11 attacks
  • terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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