Previous exposure to the world trade center terrorist attack and posttraumatic symptoms among older adults following hurricane sandy

Amit Shrira, Yuval Palgi, Yaira Hamama-Raz, Robin Goodwin, Menachem Ben-Ezra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: The present study tested the maturation and inoculation hypotheses by examining whether age and previous exposure to the September 11, 2001, World Trade Center (WTC) terrorist attack moderated the relationship between degree of exposure to Hurricane Sandy and related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Method: An online sample of 1,000 participants from affected states completed self-report questionnaires one month after Hurricane Sandy hit the east Coast. Participants reported their degree of exposure to the WTC terrorist attack and to Hurricane Sandy, and their posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms following Hurricane Sandy. Results: The positive relationship between degree of exposure to Hurricane Sandy and level of PTSD symptoms was weaker among older adults. An additional significant three-way interaction suggested that both age and previous exposure to the WTC terrorist attack moderated the relationship between degree of exposure to Hurricane Sandy and level of PTSD symptoms. Previous high degree of exposure to the WTC terrorist attack was related to a weaker effect of current exposure to Hurricane Sandy on PTSD symptoms among older adults. However, among younger adults, previous high degree of exposure to the WTC terrorist attack was related to a stronger effect of current exposure on PTSD symptoms. Conclusions: When confronted by a natural disaster, American older adults are generally resilient. Supporting the inoculation hypothesis, resilience of older adults may be partly related to the strength successfully extracted from previous exposure to adverse events.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-385
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry (New York)
Volume77
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Washington School of Psychiatry.

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