Associations between news media coverage of the 11 september attacks and depression in employees of New York city area businesses

Betty Pfefferbaum, Jayme M. Palka, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Research has examined the association between contact with media coverage of mass trauma events and various psychological outcomes, including depression. Disaster-related depression research is complicated by the relatively high prevalence of the major depressive disorder in general populations even without trauma exposure. The extant research is inconclusive regarding associations between disaster media contact and depression outcomes, in part, because most studies have not distinguished diagnostic and symptomatic outcomes, differentiated postdisaster incidence from prevalence, or considered disaster trauma exposures. This study examined these associations in a volunteer sample of 254 employees of New York City businesses after the 11 September 2001, terrorist attacks. Structured interviews and questionnaires were administered 35 months after the attacks. Poisson and logistic regression analyses revealed that post-9/11 news contact significantly predicted the number of postdisaster persistent/recurrent and incident depressive symptoms in the full sample and in the indirect and unexposed groups. The findings suggest that clinical and public health approaches should be particularly alert to potential adverse postdisaster depression outcomes related to media consumption in disaster trauma-unexposed or indirectly-exposed groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number29
JournalBehavioral Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • 11 September 2001 attacks
  • Depression
  • Depression symptoms
  • Disaster
  • Functional impairment
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Media
  • News media
  • Terrorism
  • Trauma exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Development
  • Genetics
  • Psychology(all)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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