Children's predisaster functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress following Hurricane Andrew

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1998 Dec;66(6):883-92. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.66.6.883.


This study examined (a) children's predisaster behavioral and academic functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress (PTS) following Hurricane Andrew and (b) whether children who were exposed to the disaster would display a worsening of prior functioning. Fifteen months before the disaster, 92 4th through 6th graders provided self-reports of anxiety; peers and teachers rated behavior problems (anxiety, inattention, and conduct) and academic skills. Measures were repeated 3 months postdisaster; children also reported PTS symptoms and hurricane-related experiences (i.e., exposure). PTS symptoms were again assessed 7 months postdisaster. At 3 months postdisaster, children's exposure to the disaster, as well as predisaster ratings of anxiety, inattention, and academic skills, predicted PTS symptoms. By 7 months, only exposure, African American ethnicity, and predisaster anxiety predicted PTS. Prior anxiety levels also worsened as a result of exposure to the disaster. The findings have implications for identifying and treating children at risk for stress reactions following a catastrophic disaster.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Demography
  • Disasters*
  • Female
  • Florida / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / ethnology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Whites / psychology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data