Online Program

Social lntegration buffers stress in New York police following the 9/11 terrorist attack

Monday, November 4, 2013

James Cone, MD MPH, World Trade Center Health Registry, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York, NY
Rosemarie Bowler, PhD, MPH, Psychology Department, SF State University, El Cerrito, CA
Ralf Schwarzer, PhD, Psychology Department, Freie Universitat Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany, Germany
Introduction: Being socially integrated is regarded as a protective factor enabling people to cope with adversity. Methods: We examined whether such an effect is found among New York police officers who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (WTC). The WTC Health Registry is a large longitudinal database on the health of people affected by the attack and its aftermath, including 2,940 police officers completing surveys in 2003-2004 (Wave 1) and 2006-2008 (Wave 2). The research aims at identifying social integration as a beneficial resource factor accounting for less severe stress responses in those more socially involved. A moderated mediation model was specified using event exposure as a distal predictor, earlier stress response as a mediator, and later stress response as an outcome, and social integration as a putative moderator of this mediating relationship. Results: The mediation hypothesis was confirmed, and moderation occurred at two stages. First, there was a multiplicative relationship between exposure levels and social integration: the higher the exposure level, the more stress responses (main effect) occur, but this effect is buffered by a high level of social integration (interaction effect). Second, Wave 1 stress interacted with social integration on Wave 2 stress: the more the police officers were socially integrated at Wave 2, the lower the Wave 2 stress (main effect), in a synergistic manner (interaction effect). Conclusion: This study showed that social integration among NY police officers who responded to the 9/11 terrorist attack was associated with less severe stress responses.

Learning Areas:

Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Describe how social integration buffers stress following a disaster such as the 9/11 WTC attack

Keyword(s): Occupational Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conducted research on occupational health hazards and response to disasters.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.