September 28, 2011

Understanding the Mental Health Effects of Indirect Exposure to Mass Trauma Through the Media

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, College of Physicians and Surgeons (Drs Neria and Sullivan) and Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health (Dr Neria), Columbia University, New York City, New York; and Divisions of Clinical Therapeutics (Dr Neria) and Molecular Imaging and Neuropathology (Dr Sullivan), New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York City.

JAMA. 2011;306(12):1374-1375. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1358

Exposure to mass trauma is common. In the United States, 15% of women and 19% of men have reported lifetime exposure to natural disasters alone.1 Since the advent of 24-hour television news, exposure to mass violence and natural disasters through the media is even more widespread. Although exposure to trauma has a wide range of psychopathological consequences, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been shown to be the most common.2

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