Post traumatic stress, context, and the lingering effects of the Hurricane Katrina disaster among ethnic minority youth

J Abnorm Child Psychol. 2010 Jan;38(1):49-56. doi: 10.1007/s10802-009-9352-y.


This study examined the stability of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a predominantly ethnic minority sample of youth exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Youth (n = 191 grades 4th thru 8th) were screened for exposure to traumatic experiences and PTSD symptoms at 24 months (Time 1) and then again at 30 months (Time 2) post-disaster. PTSD symptoms did not significantly decline over time and were higher than rates reported at earlier time points for more ethnically diverse samples. Younger age, female sex, and continued disrepair to the child's home predicted stable elevated PTSD symptoms. Findings are consistent with predictions from contextual theories of disaster exposure and with epidemiological data from adult samples suggesting that the incidence of PTSD post Katrina is showing an atypical pattern of remittance. Theoretical, applied, and policy implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cyclonic Storms*
  • Disasters*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Louisiana / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires