Predictors of PTSD and delayed PTSD after disaster: the impact of exposure and psychosocial resources

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2006 Jul;194(7):485-93. doi: 10.1097/01.nmd.0000228503.95503.e9.


In the present study we sought to identify factors associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the World Trade Center Disaster (WTCD) and examine changes in PTSD status over time. Our data come from a two-wave, prospective cohort study of New York City adults who were living in the city on September 11, 2001. We conducted a baseline survey 1 year after the attacks (year 1), followed by a survey 1 year later (year 2). Overall, 2368 individuals completed the year 1 survey, and 1681 were interviewed at year 2. Analyses for year 1 indicated that being younger, being female, experiencing more WTCD events, reporting more traumatic events other than the WTCD, experiencing more negative life events, having low social support, and having low self-esteem increased the likelihood of PTSD. For year 2, being middle-aged, being Latino, experiencing more negative life events and traumas since the WTCD, and having low self-esteem increased the likelihood of PTSD. Exposure to WTCD events was not related to year 2 PTSD once other factors were controlled. Following previous research, we divided study respondents into four categories: resilient cases (no PTSD years 1 or 2), remitted cases (PTSD year 1 but not year 2), delayed cases (no PTSD year 1 but PTSD year 2), and acute cases (PTSD both years 1 and 2). Factors predicting changes in PTSD between year 1 and year 2 suggested that delayed PTSD cases were more likely to have been Latino, to have experienced more negative life events, and to have had a decline in self-esteem. In contrast, remitted cases experienced fewer negative life events and had an increase in self-esteem. We discuss these findings in light of the psychosocial context associated with community disasters and traumatic stress exposures.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York City / epidemiology
  • Probability
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Time Factors