Exposure, threat appraisal, and lost confidence as predictors of PTSD symptoms following September 11, 2001

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2002 Oct;72(4):476-85. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.72.4.476.


Six months after September 11, 2001 (9/11), 124 New York City workers participated in a self-report study of symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although direct exposure to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 was limited, estimates of the prevalence of current PTSD in this mostly ethnic minority population ranged from 7.8% to 21.2%, as measured by the PTSD Checklist (F. W. Weathers, B. T. Litz, D. S. Herman, J. A. Huska, & T. M. Keane, 1993). Consistent with the study hypotheses, direct exposure to the attacks of 9/11, worries about future terrorist attacks (threat appraisal), and reduced confidence in self after 9/11 each predicted symptoms of PTSD, even after controlling for symptoms of anxiety and depression. These results support the idea that a traumatic event's meaning is associated with PTSD symptoms. Gender was not a significant predictor of symptoms, once other demographic variables were controlled. Most respondents who met the criteria for current PTSD had not sought therapy or counseling.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Counseling
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Concept*
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors