Posttraumatic stress in children with first responders in their families*


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    This article was edited by the journal's previous editor, Dean G. Kilpatrick

    Without the NYC-DOE (formerly BOE) leadership of Francine Goldstein, participation of Vincent Giordano, Linda Wernikoff, superintendents, principals, teachers, and, most of all, students, this study could not have succeeded. This investigation is the result of collaboration between the NYC-DOE; Children's Mental Health Alliance (Pamela Cantor); MSPH Columbia University-NYSPI: Christina W. Hoven (Principal Investigator), J. Larry Aber, Patricia Cohen, Christopher P. Lucas, Cristiane S. Duarte, Donald J. Mandell, George J. Musa, Ping Wu, Fan Bin, Ezra Susser, Judith Wicks, Renee Goodwin, Andrea Versenyi, and Barbara P. Aaron; statistical consultation Henian Chen, Mark Davies, Steven Greenwald and Patricia Zybert; The Michael Cohen Group, LLC (formerly ARC): Michael Cohen (Contract Principal Investigator), Nellie Gregorian, Chris Bumcrot, Craig Rosen and Victoria Francis; CDC: Bradley Woodruff; NCCEV, Yale University: Steven Marans; NYU: Elissa Brown; V.A, Honolulu, HI: Claude Chemtob; University of Oklahoma: Betty Pfefferbaum; NCCTS, UCLA: Robert Pynoos, Alan Steinberg, William Saltzman.


High levels of exposure and occupational stress of first responders may have caused children in first-responder families to become traumatized following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. New York City public school children (N = 8,236) participated in a study examining mental health problems 6 months after the World Trade Center attack. Results revealed that children with emergency medical technician (EMT) family members had a high prevalence of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD; 18.9%). Differences in rates of probable PTSD among EMTs' and firefighters' children were explained by demographic characteristics. Where EMTs are drawn from disadvantaged groups, one implication of this study is to target EMT families in any mental health interventions for children of first responders.