The growing disaster psychiatry research literature has focused on posttraumatic stress disorder, producing little insight into subjective disaster experience. Qualitative research, especially narrative analysis, may provide in-depth exploration of individual disaster experience and efforts to make meaning of it. Disaster narratives were collected from a random sample of 182 Oklahoma City bombing survivors 6 months after the disaster and again from 141 survivors nearly 1 year later. These narratives were examined for the evolution of recurring themes and their content over time. The content followed a natural time structure, encompassing phases of the bombing experience that were organized into three overarching categories containing individual themes: (a) experience of the bomb blast including themes of sensory experience and cognitions, (b) immediate aftermath including themes of structural damage, helping others, escape and physical injury, and (c) later reflections. The general content and focus of the narratives changed minimally between the baseline and follow-up interviews, but there was considerable compression of detail in the follow-up interviews. Narrative details demonstrating consistency across time may represent the most salient meaning derived from the disaster experience. These findings have potential applicability to therapeutic interventions for working with survivors of terrorism and other disasters.
- mental health
- oklahoma city bombing
- qualitative analysis
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Management Information Systems
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law