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August 7, 2002

Research on the Mental Health Effects of Terrorism

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Washington University, St Louis, Mo (Dr North); and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City (Dr Pfefferbaum).

JAMA. 2002;288(5):633-636. doi:10.1001/jama.288.5.633

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, established a backdrop against which mental health effects of disasters, especially large-scale intentionally created disasters, assumed central stage in US public health. Methodologically sound data are required to understand the mental health effects of terrorism and must guide all postdisaster mental health activities from clinical interventions to administrative policy. However, conducting methodologically solid epidemiologic investigations of mental health is extraordinarily difficult in the chaotic and complex settings of disasters, particularly those associated with terrorism.14 The study by Schlenger and colleagues5 reported in this issue of THE JOURNAL assessed postdisaster mental health in one of the most complex and challenging disaster settings in US history.

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