Psychiatric disorders after terrorist bombings among rescue workers and bombing survivors in Nairobi and rescue workers in Oklahoma City

Gus Qiong Zhang, Betty Pfefferbaum, Pushpa Narayanan, Sungkyu Lee, Samuel Thielman, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND: To examine the prevalence of psychopathology in 52 male rescue workers responding to the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Nairobi, Kenya, comparing them with 176 male rescue workers responding to the 1995 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing and with 105 directly exposed male civilian survivors of the Nairobi bombing.

METHODS: The Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement assessed pre-disaster and post-disaster psychiatric disorders and variables related to demographics, exposure, disaster perceptions, and coping in all 3 disaster subgroups.

RESULTS: The most prevalent post-disaster disorders were posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (22%) and major depressive disorder (MDD) (27%) among Nairobi rescue workers, which were more than 2 and 4 times higher, respectively, than among Oklahoma City rescue workers. Alcohol use disorder was the most prevalent pre- and post-disaster disorder among Oklahoma City rescue workers. Nairobi rescue workers had a prevalence of PTSD and MDD not significantly different from Nairobi civilian survivors.

CONCLUSIONS: Nairobi rescue workers were more symptomatic than Oklahoma City rescue workers and were as symptomatic as Nairobi civilian survivors. The vulnerability of Nairobi rescue workers to psychological sequelae may be a reflection of their volunteer, rather than professional, status. These findings contribute to understanding rescue worker mental health, especially among volunteer rescue workers, with potential implications for the importance of professional status of rescue workers in conferring protection from adverse mental health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of clinical psychiatry : official journal of the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists
Volume28
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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