Voluntary and professional disaster-workers: similarities and differences in reactions

J Trauma Stress. 1996 Jul;9(3):541-55. doi: 10.1007/BF02103663.


Forty-three rescuers responding to a bus crash that killed 12 children and 4 adults and injured many more answered questionnaires at 1 and 13 months following the crash. This study compared the responses of the voluntary and professional helpers, using the Impact of Event Scale (IES) and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). For all helpers taken together, the decline in IES-intrusion and IES-total scores was significant from 1 to 13 months. The voluntary helpers reported significantly more intrusion and avoidance on the IES at 1 month than professional helpers, and for avoidance the voluntary helpers still evidenced a significantly higher score than professional helpers at 13 months. The GHQ scores at 13 months reflected that the long-term negative impact of the event was low.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Relief Work*
  • Rescue Work*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Volunteers / psychology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*