Children's predisaster functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress following Hurricane Andrew

Annette M. La Greca, Shari B. Wasserstein, Wendy K. Silverman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

214 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined (a) children's predisaster behavioral and academic functioning as a predictor of posttraumatic stress (PTS) following Hurricane Andrew and (b) whether children who were exposed to the disaster would display a worsening of prior functioning. Fifteen months before the disaster, 92 4th through 6th graders provided self-reports of anxiety; peers and teachers rated behavior problems (anxiety, inattention, and conduct) and academic skills. Measures were repeated 3 months postdisaster; children also reported PTS symptoms and hurricane-related experiences (i.e., exposure). PTS symptoms were again assessed 7 months postdisaster. At 3 months postdisaster, children's exposure to the disaster, as well as predisaster ratings of anxiety, inattention, and academic skills, predicted PTS symptoms. By 7 months, only exposure, African American ethnicity, and predisaster anxiety predicted PTS. Prior anxiety levels also worsened as a result of exposure to the disaster. The findings have implications for identifying and treating children at risk for stress reactions following a catastrophic disaster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-892
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Volume66
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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