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The Long-term Psychological Effects of a Disaster Experienced in Adolescence: I: The Incidence and Course of PTSD

  • William Yule (a1), Derek Bolton (a1), Orlee Udwin (a1), Stephanie Boyle (a1), Dominic O'Ryan (a1) and Julie Nurrish (a1)...

Abstract

Previous studies have shown that children and adolescents exposed to traumatic experience in a disaster can suffer from high levels of post-traumatic stress. The present paper is the first a series reporting on the long-term follow-up of a group of young adults who as teenagers had survived a shipping disaster—the sinking of the “Jupiter” in Greek waters—between 5 and 8 years previously. The general methodology of the follow-up study as a whole is described, and the incidence and long-term course of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is the first study of its kind on a relatively large, representative sample of survivors, using a standardised diagnostic interview, and comparing survivors with a community control group. Survivors of the Jupiter disaster (N = 217), and 87 young people as controls, were interviewed using the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Of the 217 survivors, 111 (51.7%) had developed PTSD at some time during the follow-up period, compared with an incidence in the control group of 3.4% (N = 87). In the large majority of cases of PTSD in the survivors for whom time of onset was recorded, 90% (N = 110), onset was not delayed, being within 6 months of the disaster. About a third of those survivors who developed PTSD (30%, N = 111) recovered within a year of onset, through another third (34%, N = 111) were still suffering from the disorder at the time of follow-up, between 5 and 8 years after the disaster. Issues relating to the generalisability of these findings are discussed.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Requests for reprints to: William Yule, Psychology Department, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, U.K. (E-mail: w.yule@iop.kcl.ac.uk).

Keywords

The Long-term Psychological Effects of a Disaster Experienced in Adolescence: I: The Incidence and Course of PTSD

  • William Yule (a1), Derek Bolton (a1), Orlee Udwin (a1), Stephanie Boyle (a1), Dominic O'Ryan (a1) and Julie Nurrish (a1)...

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