The medical student experience with disasters and disaster response

CNS Spectr. 2002 Aug;7(8):604-10. doi: 10.1017/s1092852900018216.


Medical students from New York City were integrally involved in the response by health professionals to aid the families of victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center. The present study was performed to investigate the emotional impact of this involvement on medical students from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. One hundred fifty-seven students responded to a mail survey that explored their personal and professional involvement in the disaster as well as their psychiatric symptoms in the week after the event and at the time of the survey (3.5 months after the event). Findings suggested a differential emotional impact on female students and on students involved in less supervised and more emotionally intense activities. However, involvement in the relief effort, per se, did not contribute to psychiatric symptomatology. It may have been associated with enhanced professional self-esteem among the students. These findings have implications for future planning of psychiatric response to disasters.