Outcomes and correlates of major depression in 11 disaster studies using consistent methods

Carol S. North, David Baron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This study investigated psychosocial functioning and employment status in association with postdisaster major depression and its course in survivors of 11 different disasters in a sample of 808 directly-exposed survivors of 10 disasters and 373 survivors of the 11 September 2001 (9/11), terrorist attacks on New York City’s World Trade Center (total n = 1181). Participants were assessed between 1987 and 2007 with structured diagnostic interviews in a prospective longitudinal design. Consistent research methods allowed merging of the disaster databases for analysis using multivariate modeling. Postdisaster major depression in the study cohort from the 9/11 disaster was more than twice as prevalent as in the other disasters, possibly reflecting the greater psychosocial/interpersonal loss and bereavement experienced by 9/11 disaster survivors. At follow up, employment was associated with remission of postdisaster major depression, non-development of PTSD, and coping via family or friends. Functioning problems were associated with disaster injuries, but not with persistent major depression. This study is unprecedented in its large sample of survivors across the full range of disaster typology studied using consistent methods and full structured interview diagnostic assessment. These findings may help guide future interventions to address postdisaster depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number4
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Disaster mental health
  • Functional impairment
  • Postdisaster depression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • General Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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