The kings cross fire: Psychological reactions

Authors

  • Stuart W. Turner,

    1. Camden & Islington Community Health Services NHS Trust, & Honorary Senior Lecturer, University College London School of Medicine, Traumatic Stress Clinic, 73 Charlotte Street London W1P 1LB, United Kingdom, 0171 436 9000
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  • James Thompson,

    1. University College London School of Medicine, Wolfson Building, 48 Riding House Street, London W1N 8AA, United Kingdom, 0171 380 9470
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  • Rachel M. Rosser

    1. University College London School of Medicine, Wolfson Building, 48 Riding House Street, London W1N 8AA, United Kingdom, 0171 380 9475
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Abstract

The psychological reactions of 50 survivors of the King's Cross fire, which hit London's underground railway system on the 18th day of November 1987, are described. Results are presented for the Impact of Event scale, the General Health Questionnaire (28-item version), the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and a King's Cross Event Schedule. These are investigated in relation to (a) validity measures, (b) relationships between exposure and personality, and (c) spontaneous de-briefing. Two thirds of the sample had significant levels of psychological distress (meeting the “caseness” criterion on the GHQ). Both personality (neuroticism and L-scale) and degree of trauma exposure were related to subsequent reaction. Spontaneous debriefing was associated with subjective benefit. Transportation disasters present particular problems in relation to research and service delivery.

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