Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

PTSD Rate Tripled among N.Y. Police Officers. (Catastrophies and First Responders)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

PTSD Rate Tripled among N.Y. Police Officers. (Catastrophies and First Responders)

Article excerpt

Los ANGELES--Anew study shows that the rate of posttraumatic stress disorder among New York City policemen and women more than tripled after Sept. 11, 2001, Dr. Charles Marmar said at a meeting on posttraumatic stress disorder sponsored by the Foundation for Psychocultural Research.

In a study of 337 police officers--242 of whom worked in New York--Dr. Marmar and his colleagues found that the rate of PTSD increased from 7% to 24% among New York City police officers after Sept. 11, while in the San Francisco area, which was also studied, the rate stayed the same.

"The study shows the impact of catastrophic events on first responders, which is important in our civil defense. If we can't protect the health of first responders, then we are all in jeopardy in an age of terrorism," Dr. Marmar said just a few weeks before the nation was placed under a heightened security.

The study, in which data are still being collected, began with 747 police officers in New York and the San Francisco area. The officers were tested for PTSD symptoms and interviewed for information about their exposure to traumas such as shoot-outs and car accidents. At baseline, the New York City police officers had a slightly higher number of PTSD symptoms than officers in the Bay area, said Dr. Marmar at the meeting, also sponsored by the University of California, Los Angeles.

The quality of the police officers' social support and work environment also affected the development of PTSD, according to Dr. Marmar. "Experiencing negative life events in the year after 9/11 was important in the development of PTSD," he added.

The strongest predictors of which officers would develop PTSD after Sept. 11 were their level of panic at the time of the event and the extent to which they disassociated from the tragedy The amount of exposure the policemen and women had to the Sept. …

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