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Insecure attachment styles are associated with retrospectively reported suicide attempts (SAs). It is not known if attachment styles are prospectively associated with medically documented SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering service (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Attachment style (secure, preoccupied, fearful, dismissing) was assessed at baseline. Administrative medical records identified SAs. Discrete-time survival analysis examined associations of attachment style with future SA during service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographics, service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of attachment style with SA differed based on sex and MH-Dx.
In total, 253 respondents attempted suicide. Endorsed attachment styles included secure (46.8%), preoccupied (9.1%), fearful (15.7%), and dismissing (19.2%). Examined separately, insecure attachment styles were associated with increased odds of SA: preoccupied [OR 2.5 (95% CI 1.7–3.4)], fearful [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.3)], dismissing [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.6)]. Examining attachment styles simultaneously along with other covariates, preoccupied [OR 1.9 (95% CI 1.4–2.7)] and dismissing [OR 1.7 (95% CI 1.2–2.4)] remained significant. The dismissing attachment and MH-Dx interaction was significant. In stratified analyses, dismissing attachment was associated with SA only among soldiers without MH-Dx. Other interactions were non-significant. Soldiers endorsing any insecure attachment style had elevated SA risk across the first 48 months in service, particularly during the first 12 months.
Insecure attachment styles, particularly preoccupied and dismissing, are associated with increased future SA risk among soldiers. Elevated risk is most substantial during first year of service but persists through the first 48 months. Dismissing attachment may indicate risk specifically among soldiers not identified by the mental healthcare system.
Emotion reactivity and risk behaviors (ERRB) are transdiagnostic dimensions associated with suicide attempt (SA). ERRB patterns may identify individuals at increased risk of future SAs.
A representative sample of US Army soldiers entering basic combat training (n = 21 772) was surveyed and followed via administrative records for their first 48 months of service. Latent profile analysis of baseline survey items assessing ERRB dimensions, including emotion reactivity, impulsivity, and risk-taking behaviors, identified distinct response patterns (classes). SAs were identified using administrative medical records. A discrete-time survival framework was used to examine associations of ERRB classes with subsequent SA during the first 48 months of service, adjusting for time in service, socio-demographic and service-related variables, and mental health diagnosis (MH-Dx). We examined whether associations of ERRB classes with SA differed by year of service and for soldiers with and without a MH-Dx.
Of 21 772 respondents (86.2% male, 61.8% White non-Hispanic), 253 made a SA. Four ERRB classes were identified: ‘Indirect Harming’ (8.9% of soldiers), ‘Impulsive’ (19.3%), ‘Risk-Taking’ (16.3%), and ‘Low ERRB’ (55.6%). Compared to Low ERRB, Impulsive [OR 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.4)] and Risk-Taking [OR 1.6 (95% CI 1.1–2.2)] had higher odds of SA after adjusting for covariates. The ERRB class and MH-Dx interaction was non-significant. Within each class, SA risk varied across service time.
SA risk within the four identified ERRB classes varied across service time. Impulsive and Risk-Taking soldiers had increased risk of future SA. MH-Dx did not modify these associations, which may therefore help identify risk in those not yet receiving mental healthcare.
In times of repeated disaster events, including natural disasters and pandemics, public health workers must recover rapidly to respond to subsequent events. Understanding predictors of time to recovery and developing predictive models of time to recovery can aid planning and management.
We examined 681 public health workers (21-72 y, M(standard deviation [SD]) = 48.25(10.15); 79% female) 1 mo before (T1) and 9 mo after (T2) the 2005 hurricane season. Demographics, trauma history, social support, time to recover from previous hurricane season, and predisaster work productivity were assessed at T1. T2 assessed previous disaster work, initial emotional response, and personal hurricane injury/damage. The primary outcome was time to recover from the most recent hurricane event.
Multivariate analyses found that less support (T1; odds ratio [OR] = .74[95% confidence interval [CI] = .60-.92]), longer previous recovery time (T1; OR = 5.22[95%CI = 3.01-9.08]), lower predisaster work productivity (T1; OR = 1.98[95%CI = 1.08-3.61]), disaster-related personal injury/damage (T2; OR = 3.08[95%CI = 1.70-5.58]), and initial emotional response (T2; OR = 1.71[95%CI = 1.34-2.19]) were associated with longer recovery time (T2).
Recovery time was adversely affected in disaster responders with a history of longer recovery time, personal injury/damage, lower work productivity following prior hurricanes, and initial emotional response, whereas responders with social support had shorter recovery time. Predictors of recovery time should be a focus for disaster preparedness planners.
Research on disaster behavioral health presents significant methodological challenges. Challenges are even more complex for research on mass violence events that involve military members, families, and communities, due to the cultural and logistical considerations of working with this population. The current article aims to inform and educate on this specialized area of research, by presenting a case study on the experience of designing and conducting disaster behavioral health research after a mass violence event in a military setting: the 2013 mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, in Washington, D.C. Using the case example, the authors explore methodological challenges and lessons learned from conducting research in this context, and provide guidance for future researchers.
Community characteristics, such as collective efficacy, a measure of community strength, can affect behavioral responses following disasters. We measured collective efficacy 1 month before multiple hurricanes in 2005, and assessed its association to preparedness 9 months following the hurricane season.
Participants were 631 Florida Department of Health workers who responded to multiple hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. They completed questionnaires that were distributed electronically approximately 1 month before (6.2005-T1) and 9 months after (6.2006-T2) several storms over the 2005 hurricane season. Collective efficacy, preparedness behaviors, and socio-demographics were assessed at T1, and preparedness behaviors and hurricane-related characteristics (injury, community-related damage) were assessed at T2. Participant ages ranged from 21-72 (M(SD) = 48.50 (10.15)), and the majority were female (78%).
In linear regression models, univariate analyses indicated that being older (B = 0.01, SE = 0.003, P < 0.001), White (B = 0.22, SE = 0.08, P < 0.01), and married (B = 0.05, SE = 0.02, p < 0.001) was associated with preparedness following the 2005 hurricanes. Multivariate analyses, adjusting for socio-demographics, preparedness (T1), and hurricane-related characteristics (T2), found that higher collective efficacy (T1) was associated with preparedness after the hurricanes (B = 0.10, SE = 0.03, P < 0.01; and B = 0.47, SE = 0.04, P < 0.001 respectively).
Programs enhancing collective efficacy may be a significant part of prevention practices and promote preparedness efforts before disasters.
This study examined the relationship of perceived safety and confidence in local law enforcement and government to changes in daily life activities during the Washington, DC, sniper attacks.
Participants were 1238 residents from the Washington, DC metropolitan area who were assessed using an Internet survey that included items related to safety at work, at home, and in general, confidence in law enforcement/government, and changes in routine daily life activities.
A majority of participants (52%, n = 640) reported changing their daily life activities, with approximately one-third identifying changes related to being in large places and getting gas. Perceived safety was associated with confidence in local law enforcement/government. After adjusting for demographics, lower feelings of safety and less confidence in law enforcement/government were related to a higher likelihood of altered daily activities. Confidence in local law enforcement/government modified the association of safety with changes in daily activities. Among participants with high safety, less confidence in local law enforcement/government was associated with greater changes in daily life activities.
Serial shooting events affect feelings of safety and disrupt routine life activities. Focus on enhancing experiences of safety and confidence in local law enforcement and government may decrease the life disruption associated with terrorist shootings.
Distinguishing a disorder of persistent and impairing grief from normative grief allows clinicians to identify this often undetected and disabling condition. As four diagnostic criteria sets for a grief disorder have been proposed, their similarities and differences need to be elucidated.
Participants were family members bereaved by US military service death (N = 1732). We conducted analyses to assess the accuracy of each criteria set in identifying threshold cases (participants who endorsed baseline Inventory of Complicated Grief ⩾30 and Work and Social Adjustment Scale ⩾20) and excluding those below this threshold. We also calculated agreement among criteria sets by varying numbers of required associated symptoms.
All four criteria sets accurately excluded participants below our identified clinical threshold (i.e. correctly excluding 86–96% of those subthreshold), but they varied in identification of threshold cases (i.e. correctly identifying 47–82%). When the number of associated symptoms was held constant, criteria sets performed similarly. Accurate case identification was optimized when one or two associated symptoms were required. When employing optimized symptom numbers, pairwise agreements among criteria became correspondingly ‘very good’ (κ = 0.86–0.96).
The four proposed criteria sets describe a similar condition of persistent and impairing grief, but differ primarily in criteria restrictiveness. Diagnostic guidance for prolonged grief disorder in International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition (ICD-11) functions well, whereas the criteria put forth in Section III of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are unnecessarily restrictive.
Community characteristics, such as perceived collective efficacy, a measure of community strength, can affect mental health outcomes following disasters. We examined the association of perceived collective efficacy with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and frequent mental distress (14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month) following exposure to the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.
Participants were 1486 Florida Department of Health workers who completed anonymous questionnaires that were distributed electronically 9 months after the 2005 hurricane season. Participant ages ranged from 20 to 79 years (mean, 48; SD, 10.7), and the majority were female (79%), white (75%), and currently married (64%). Fifty percent had a BA/BS degree or higher.
In 2 separate logistic regression models, each adjusted for individual sociodemographics, community socioeconomic characteristics, individual injury/damage, and community storm damage, lower perceived collective efficacy was significantly associated with a greater likelihood of having PTSD (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.90-0.96), and lower collective efficacy was significantly associated with frequent mental distress (OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.92-0.96).
Programs enhancing community collective efficacy may be a significant part of prevention practices and possibly lead to a reduction in the rate of PTSD and persistent distress postdisaster. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:44–52).
This study examined the relationship of sniper-related television viewing (TV) and perceived safety to posttraumatic stress (PTS) and depressive symptoms during the Washington, DC sniper attacks.
Participants were 1238 Washington, DC area residents assessed using an internet survey including the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, hours of TV, and perceived safety.
Almost 40% (n = 459) of participants watched at least 2 hours of sniper-related TV daily. TV viewing was associated with lower total perceived safety. After adjusting for demographics, more TV viewing and decreased perceived safety were related to increased PTS and depressive symptoms. TV viewing modified the effect of safety on PTS and depressive symptoms. Among participants with low and high perceived safety, hours of TV were positively associated with PTS; however, the effect was stronger among those with low perceived safety. The relationship of TV to increased depressive symptoms was identified only in participants who reported low perceived safety.
The influence of media exposure and perceived safety have implications for intervention by community leaders and mental health care providers. Recommendations include limiting media exposure during a terrorist event, particularly among those who perceive that their safety is at risk, and targeting safety in communication strategies. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:570-576)
A series of sniper attacks in the Washington, DC, area left 10 people dead and 3 wounded. We developed and tested a model that examined the unique and interdependent relationships of sniper-related television viewing, prior life-threatening events, and parental status to identification with attack victims.
Participants were 1238 residents of the DC area (aged 18-90 years, mean=41.7 years; 51% female; 68% white) who completed an online survey that assessed identification with sniper attack victims, amount of television viewing, and prior life-threatening events. Identification was measured by using a previously developed scale that assessed to what extent participants identified victims as similar to themselves, a friend, or a family member.
The relationship of television viewing to identification was examined by using multivariate linear regression analyses. In univariate analyses, female gender, having children, higher levels of television viewing, and past life-threatening events were independently related to greater identification. After adjustment for demographics and life-threatening events, sniper-related television viewing continued to be associated with identification (B=0.61, P≤0.001, ∆R2=0.07). Examination of the interactions of television viewing by parental status and television viewing by life-threatening event revealed significant relationships.
Attention to events preceding and during a terrorist event could help in the recognition of those at particular risk for increased identification with attack victims. These findings also have implications for recommendations for media exposure during an event. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018; 12: 337–344)