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Keywords:

  • September 11th;
  • disaster;
  • mental health;
  • first responders;
  • disaster workers;
  • review

Abstract

Background: Disaster workers responding to the events of September 11th were exposed to traumatic events. No study has systematically investigated the diverse mental health status and needs of the heterogeneous population of disaster workers responding to the events of September 11th.

Methods: Using PubMed and Medline and the search terms of “September 11, 2001” or “September 11” or “9/11”or “WTC” or “World Trade Center”, the authors reviewed all articles that examined the mental health outcomes of workers at one of the three September 11th crash sites or the Fresh Kills landfill in New York City.

Results: In total, 25 articles met study inclusion criteria, often using different methodologies. The articles described varying degrees of mental health symptomatology, risk factors for adverse mental health outcomes, and utilization of mental health services.

Conclusions: The mental health needs of workers exposed to the events of September 11th ranged from little to no care to pharmacotherapy. A range of risk factors, including exposures at the WTC site and occupational activities, impacted on these needs but the role of specific mental health interventions was less clear. These findings suggest the need for a future program for disaster workers consisting of an accessible mental health treatment service supported by comprehensive postdisaster surveillance and emphasis on pre-disaster mental wellness. A number of areas for further consideration and study were identified, including the need for a more diverse exploration of involved responder populations as well as investigation of potential mental health outcomes beyond post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Mt Sinai J Med 75:115–127, 2008© 2008 Mount Sinai School of Medicine