• PTS;
  • appraisal;
  • coping;
  • stress-load;
  • disaster

Background:  Appraisal and coping following a disaster are important factors in children's post-traumatic stress (PTS) symptoms. However, little is known about predictors of disaster coping responses. This study examined stress-load, appraisals and coping styles measured prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks as predictors of 9/11-specific appraisals, coping and PTS.

Methods:  A community sample of children and parents (N = 143) participating in an ongoing study were interviewed by phone approximately 1 month following 9/11.

Results:  Pre-attack stress-load, appraisal and coping styles predicted children's 9/11-specific appraisals, coping, and PTS. 9/11-specific threat appraisals and avoidant coping predicted higher PTS and mediated the effects of pre-attack stress-load and threat appraisal.

Conclusions:  Pre-disaster stress-load, appraisal and coping styles predict disaster-specific appraisal and coping, which in turn, contribute to PTS. Coping interventions might mitigate PTS symptoms following a disaster.