Posttraumatic stress symptoms in children after Hurricane Katrina: predicting the need for mental health services

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2009 Apr;79(2):212-20. doi: 10.1037/a0016179.


The purpose of this study was to examine factors related to the development of posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents after Hurricane Katrina. It was hypothesized that a positive correlation would exist between trauma exposure variables and symptoms indicating need for mental health services experienced 2 years after Hurricane Katrina. Specifically, the authors hypothesized that experiences associated with natural disaster including personal loss, separation from family and/or community, and lack of community support as well as previous loss or trauma would be related to increased symptomatology in both children and adolescents. This study included 7,258 children and adolescents from heavily affected Louisiana parishes. Measures included the Hurricane Assessment and Referral Tool for Children and Adolescents developed by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN, 2005). Results were generally supportive of our hypotheses, and specific exposure and demographic variables were found to be strongly related to posttraumatic stress symptoms in children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Louisiana
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Young Adult