Population Psychiatric Medication Prescription Rates Following a Terrorist Attack
Introduction: While several population-based studies have documented behavioral health disturbances following terrorist attacks, a number of mental health service utilization analyses published thus far have presented conflicting conclusions. Problem: Our purpose was to determine if mental health service utilization increased following a terrorist attack by assessing changes in psychoactive drug prescription rates. Methods: We measured the rate of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescriptions among New York State Medicaid enrollees before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and assessed the association between geographic proximity to the events and changes in the rate of SSRI prescriptions around September 11, 2001 Results: From September to December 2001, among individuals residing within 3 miles of the WTC site, there was an 18.2% increase in the SSRI prescription rate compared to the previous 8 month period (p=0.0011). While there was a 9.3% increase for non-New York City residents, this change was not statistically significant (p=0.74). Conclusions: We conclude that there was a quantifiable increase in the dispensing of psychoactive drugs following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and that this effect varied in response to geographic proximity to the events. These findings build on the growing body of knowledge on the pervasive effects of disasters and terrorist events for population health and demonstrate the need to include mental and behavioral health as key components of surge capacity and public health response to mass traumas.
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, vol. 22, no. 6 (November-December 2007), pp. 479-484.