Online Program

Impact of Hurricane Sandy and associations with 9/11-related PTSD among WTC responders

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Adam Gonzalez, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Roman Kotov, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Benjamin Luft, MD, Department of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
Evelyn Bromet, PhD, Dept. of Psychiatry, Stony Brook Univeristy School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY
Hurricane Sandy resulted in the devastation of many communities in New York. In particular, Long Island experienced major flooding and powerful winds that left many without electricity for weeks and destroyed homes. Responders to the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) on September 11, 2001 (9/11) are important to evaluate because WTC exposures left many of them vulnerable, and 25% live in communities highly affected by Hurricane Sandy. The current study sought to document the impact of Hurricane Sandy and to assess the association between Sandy-related exposures and 9/11-related PTSD symptom severity among WTC responders. Participants were 619 patients at the Stony Brook WTC Health Program, which provides yearly health monitoring and treatment for 7,000 WTC responders, assessed between 11/19/2012 and 2/15/2013. The majority were male (93%) with a mean age of 50 (SD=8.69). Based on SCID interviews, 9% met criteria for current 9/11-related PTSD and 6.5% for major depression. Participants were significantly affected by Sandy: 43% reported damage to their neighborhood; 15% reported damage to their home; 25% feared for safety; and 45% were without power for at least one week. Almost half (47%) responded either as a volunteer or as part of their work, and 23% reported that their 9/11 experiences helped them cope with the disaster. There was a significant positive association between Sandy-exposures and 9/11-related PTSD symptom severity. These findings indicate that WTC responders were significantly affected by Hurricane Sandy, which may have exacerbated their existing PTSD symptoms.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention

Learning Objectives:
Describe the impact of Hurricane Sandy on WTC responders Discuss the relationship between disaster exposure and PTSD symptoms

Keyword(s): Disasters, Mental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a research assistant professor in the Dept of Psychiatry at Stony Brook University and clinical psychologist at the World Trade Center Health Program (WTC-HP). I oversee all of the research projects at the WTC-HP, including studies on the epidemiology and epigenetics of the comorbidity between PTSD and respiratory illness among WTC responders. My scientific interests include understanding vulnerability for PTSD and treatment development and evaluation.
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.