The Mental Health Consequences of Terrorism: Implications for Emergency Medicine Practitioners

DiMaggio, Charles J.; Madrid, Paula; Loo, George T.; Galea, Sandro

Emergency physicians are likely to be first-line responders in any local or regional terrorist event. In addition to preparing for the potential physical conditions and injuries that are associated with terrorism, they should be aware of the behavioral and mental health implications as well. It is helpful to be familiar with the characteristics that predict who may be at increased risk for mental illness after such events and how they may be identified in an Emergency Department setting. Although most people in the general population with behavioral conditions stemming from a terrorist event can be expected to recover spontaneously within several months, other individuals are at increased risk of developing more debilitating mental health conditions that have been associated with post-terrorist and disaster environments. Screening tools are available to help emergency practitioners identify them and refer patients for more formal psychiatric evaluation and potential interventions to facilitate and speed the recovery process.


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Academic Units
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July 14, 2010


Journal of Emergency Medicine, vol. 35, no. 2 (August 2008), pp. 139-147.