Postdisaster psychological intervention since 9/11

Am Psychol. 2011 Sep;66(6):482-94. doi: 10.1037/a0024806.


A wealth of research and experience after 9/11 has led to the development of evidence-based and evidence-informed guidelines and strategies to support the design and implementation of public mental health programs after terrorism and disaster. This article reviews advances that have been made in a variety of areas, including development of improved metrics and methodologies for conducting needs assessment, screening, surveillance, and program evaluation; clarification of risk and resilience factors as these relate to varying outcome trajectories for survivors and inform interventions; development and implementation of evidence-based and evidence-informed early, midterm, and late interventions for children, adults, and families; adaptation of interventions for cultural, ethnic, and minority groups; improvement in strategies to expand access to postdisaster mental health services; and enhancement of training methods and platforms for workforce development among psychologists, paraprofessionals, and other disaster responders. Continuing improvement of psychologists' national capacity to respond to catastrophic events will require more systematic research to strengthen the evidence base for postdisaster screening and interventions and effective methods and platforms for training. Policy decisions are clearly needed that enhance federal funding to increase availability and access to services, especially for longer term care. Traumatic bereavement represents a critical area for future research, as much needs to be done to clarify issues related to reactions and adaptation to a traumatic death.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy
  • Female
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Mental Health*
  • Public Health
  • September 11 Terrorist Attacks / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy