Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior Editor
To the Editor: Dr Schlenger and colleagues1 found an increased rate of "probable PTSD" associated with the September 11 attacks in the New York metropolitan area compared with rates in the rest of the country. We are concerned, however, that despite the authors' cautions, their data concerning "probable PTSD" may be misinterpreted as actual PTSD diagnoses. Although these data are based on a well-validated instrument, the PTSD Checklist–Civilian (PCL-C),2 its validity in the face of ongoing events rather than a past trauma is questionable. Furthermore, the assessments may have occurred too soon after the event to draw definitive conclusions about enduring psychiatric morbidities and their implications for public health.
Sullivan PA, Shapiro PJ, Thompson R. Psychiatric Consequences of September 11. JAMA. 2002;288(21):2684. doi:10.1001/jama.288.21.2684-JLT1204-1-4