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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

NYU: PTSD and Lower Respiratory Symptoms in World Trade Center Disaster Survivors

The study, “Comorbid posttraumatic stress disorder and lower respiratory symptoms in disaster survivors: Qualitative results of a 17-year follow-up of World Trade Center disaster survivors” — co-authored by Dr. Robyn Gershon, Clinical Professor of Epidemiology at New York University College of Global Public Health — was published by Progress in Disaster Science.

Developing a better understanding of the experiences of disaster survivors with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and serious comorbid medical conditions may lead to improvements in treatment, and help reduce the public health and healthcare burden of affected individuals. The purpose of this qualitative study was threefold; first, to explore the relationship between PTSD and lower respiratory symptoms (LRS); second, to identify factors influencing self-management and treatment of both disorders; and third, to determine the impact of these comorbidities on quality of life. 

This study strives to identify strategies to improve coordination of medical and mental health management in order to reduce the symptomatic burden of these two health conditions. Results conclude that proactive and collaborative planning steps at multiple levels (healthcare, public health, disaster management) are needed to prevent adverse impacts of disasters. Due to the increasing trend in disasters (both natural and man-made), with potentially wide-ranging exposures, it is important to plan for the complex treatment of PTSD and other comorbidities.

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