Attack-related life disruption and child psychopathology in New York City public schoolchildren 6-months post-9/11

J Clin Child Adolesc Psychol. 2010;39(4):460-9. doi: 10.1080/15374416.2010.486314.


In the aftermath of disasters, understanding relationships between disaster-related life disruption and children's functioning is key to informing future postdisaster intervention efforts. The present study examined attack-related life disruptions and psychopathology in a representative sample (N = 8,236) of New York City public schoolchildren (Grades 4-12) surveyed 6 months after September 11, 2001. One in 5 youth reported a family member lost their job because of the attacks, and 1 in 3 reported their parents restricted their postattack travel. These forms of disruption were, in turn, associated with elevated rates of probable posttraumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders (and major depressive disorder in the case of restricted travel). Results indicate that adverse disaster-related experiences extend beyond traumatic exposure and include the prolonged ripple of postdisaster life disruption and economic hardship. Future postdisaster efforts must, in addition to ensuring the availability of mental health services for proximally exposed youth, maintain a focus on youth burdened by disaster-related life disruption.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services
  • Mental Health*
  • New York City
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Schools
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires