Ethical and methodological issues in academic mental health research in populations affected by disasters: The Oklahoma City experience relevant to September 11, 2001

Carol S North, Betty Pfefferbaum, Phebe Tucker

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

28 Scopus citations


Empirical data from research studies are vital to guiding mental health interventions following disasters. However, few data are available for this purpose. Important advances in policy and procedures for the conduct of organized research emerged from the Oklahoma City bombing, yielding cooperative working relationships among researchers and culminating in the ethical attainment of informative research data. However, the academic community was again caught off guard after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Suggestions to surmount these obstacles include incorporating research infrastructures into disaster preparedness plans in advance; organizing the community of researchers; and working closely with major funding organizations. Methodological issues pertaining to measurement of psychopathology include the importance of obtaining diagnostic data; interpreting the meaning of symptoms in the absence of a psychiatric disorder; differentiating preexisting symptoms from those that emerged after the disaster, and optimal timing of postdisaster assessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-584
Number of pages5
JournalCNS spectrums
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this