The September 11, 2001 (9/11), terrorist attacks were unprecedented in their magnitude and aftermath. In the wake of the attacks, researchers reported a wide range of mental and physical health outcomes, with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) the one most commonly studied. In this review, we aim to assess the evidence about PTSD among highly exposed populations in the first 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. We performed a systematic review. Eligible studies included original reports based on the full Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., rev.; American Psychiatric Association, 2000) criteria of PTSD among highly exposed populations such as those living or working within close proximity to the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon in New York City and Washington, DC, respectively, and first responders, including rescue, cleaning, and recovery workers. The large body of research conducted after the 9/11 attacks in the past decade suggests that the burden of PTSD among persons with high exposure to 9/11 was substantial. PTSD that was 9/11-related was associated with a wide range of correlates, including sociodemographic and background factors, event exposure characteristics, loss of life of significant others, and social support factors. Few studies used longitudinal study design or clinical assessments, and no studies reported findings beyond six years post-9/11, thus hindering documentation of the long-term course of confirmed PTSD. Future directions for research are discussed.
© 2011 American Psychological Association