Services provided by volunteer psychiatrists after 9/11 at the New York city family assistance center

September 12-November 20, 2001

Anand Pandya, Craig L. Katz, Rebecca Smith, Anthony T. Ng, Michael Tafoya, Anastasia Holmes, Carol S North

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To characterize the experience of volunteer disaster psychiatrists who provided pro bono psychiatric services to 9/11 survivors in New York City, from September 12, 2001 to November 20, 2001. METHOD: Disaster Psychiatry Outreach (DPO) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to provide volunteer psychiatric care to people affected by disasters and to promote education and research in support of this mission. Data for this study were collected from one-page clinical encounter forms completed by 268 DPO psychiatrists for 2 months after 9/11 concerning 848 patients served by the DPO 9/11 response program at the New York City Family Assistance Center. RESULTS: In this endeavor, 268 psychiatrist volunteers evaluated 848 individuals and provided appropriate interventions. The most commonly recorded clinical impressions indicated stress-related and adjustment disorders, but other conditions such as bereavement, major depression, and substance abuse/dependence were also observed. Free samples were available for one sedative and one anxiolytic agent; not surprisingly, these were the most commonly prescribed medications. Nearly half of those evaluated received psychotropic medications. CONCLUSIONS: In the acute aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, volunteer psychiatrists were able to provide services in a disaster response setting, in which they were co-located with other disaster responders. These services included psychiatric assessment, provision of medication, psychological first aid, and referrals for ongoing care. Although systematic diagnoses could not be confirmed, the fact that most patients were perceived to have a psychiatric diagnosis and a substantial proportion received psychotropic medication suggests potential specific roles for psychiatrists that are unique and different from roles of other mental health professionals in the early post-disaster setting. In addition to further characterizing post-disaster mental health needs and patterns of service provision, future research should focus on the short- and long-term effects of psychiatric interventions, such as providing acute psychotropic medication services and assessing the effectiveness of traditional acute post-disaster interventions including crisis counseling and psychological first aid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-199
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Practice
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

Fingerprint

Disasters
Psychiatry
Volunteers
First Aid
Substance-Related Disorders
Mental Health
Nonprofit Organizations
Psychology
Crisis Intervention
Adjustment Disorders
Bereavement
Anti-Anxiety Agents
Hypnotics and Sedatives
Mental Disorders
Survivors
Counseling
Referral and Consultation
Depression
Education

Keywords

  • Crisis counseling
  • Disaster psychiatry
  • Mental health outreach
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Psychiatric services
  • Psychological first aid
  • Terrorism
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Services provided by volunteer psychiatrists after 9/11 at the New York city family assistance center : September 12-November 20, 2001. / Pandya, Anand; Katz, Craig L.; Smith, Rebecca; Ng, Anthony T.; Tafoya, Michael; Holmes, Anastasia; North, Carol S.

In: Journal of Psychiatric Practice, Vol. 16, No. 3, 05.2010, p. 193-199.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pandya, Anand ; Katz, Craig L. ; Smith, Rebecca ; Ng, Anthony T. ; Tafoya, Michael ; Holmes, Anastasia ; North, Carol S. / Services provided by volunteer psychiatrists after 9/11 at the New York city family assistance center : September 12-November 20, 2001. In: Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2010 ; Vol. 16, No. 3. pp. 193-199.
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