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The Long-term Psychological Effects of a Disaster Experienced in Adolescence: II: General Psychopathology

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 May 2000

Derek Bolton
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London, U.K.
Dominic O'Ryan
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London, U.K.
Orlee Udwin
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London, U.K.
Stephanie Boyle
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London, U.K.
William Yule
Affiliation:
Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London, and South London and Maudsley NHS Trust Hospital, London, U.K.
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Abstract

Children and adolescents exposed to trauma can suffer major adverse psychological effects including not only post-traumatic stress but also other psychological disorders. This study investigates the long-term course of general psychopathology following trauma in adolescence using a standardised diagnostic interview and comparisons with a matched control group. Young people (N = 216) who as teenagers had survived a shipping disaster—the sinking of the “Jupiter” in Greek waters—between 5 and 8 years previously and 87 young people as matched controls were interviewed. The survivors showed raised rates of diagnosis in a range of anxiety and affective disorders during the follow-up period. The highest rates were among the survivors who had developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and those survivors who had not were generally similar to the controls. Onset of anxiety and affective disorders varied between being indefinitely close to the disaster to years later. Differences in rates of disorder between the survivor and control groups had lessened by the time of follow-up but were still apparent, due to continuing distress among the survivors still suffering from PTSD, and to a lesser extent among those who had recovered from PTSD. Generalisability of the findings are discussed.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2000 Association for Child Psychology and Psychiatry

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