Terror attacks cause variation in everyday functioning across several domains. This paper focuses on the individual long-term costs in terms of clinical symptoms and cognitive (e.g., shifting, inhibition, and spatial working memory) difficulties associated with these symptoms in 24 survivors of a terror attack in Norway. Another 24 controls were included for comparison purposes. Participants were administered a battery of clinical and neurocognitive tests. Results showed that all clinical variables differed as a function of group, ps = .001, ?2 = .64, but no significant differences were revealed for the neurocognitive measures. In the survivor group, shifting capacity and its interaction with gender predicted intrusion symptoms, p = .045, ?p2 = .338, and symptoms of avoidance, p = .008, ?p2 = .453. We discuss the findings in relation to theoretical models and therapeutic interventions.
This study analyzes the impact of the media on adolescents traumatized in a school shooting. Participants were trauma-exposed students (n = 231) and comparison students (n = 526), aged 13-19 years. A questionnaire that included the Impact of Event Scale and a 36-item General Health Questionnaire was administered 4 months after the shooting. Being interviewed was associated with higher scores on the Impact of Event Scale (p = .005), but posttraumatic symptoms did not differ between those who refused to be interviewed and those not approached by reporters. Following a higher number of media outlets did not affect symptoms.
AIM: This paper is a report of a study of the immediate lived experiences of victims and relatives of the 2004 tsunami disaster. BACKGROUND: Disasters serve to remind us of our frailty and vulnerability and raise existential questions. From the perspective of caring sciences, suffering is regarded as a natural source for change in patients' understanding of the world and the meaningfulness of their lives. METHOD: A phenomenological hermeneutic study was conducted, using in-depth interviews with a convenience sample of 19 informants in 2006-2007. Ricoeur's theory of interpretation served as a guiding principle for interpreting the interview texts. FINDINGS: The immediate lived experiences of the tsunami survivors and their relatives revealed a comprehensive picture, described as different acts of the drama. These acts were: 'experiencing the very core of existence', 'a changed understanding of life' and 'the power of communion'. Confronting our frailty and vulnerability makes us more authentic to ourselves, to our relatives and to life itself. The first step towards progression involves an act where the suffering is seen and validated by another person. Reshaping the suffering together with the family adds a valuable dimension to life. Availability and presence by the family opened up for communion. CONCLUSION: The immediate lived experiences of the tsunami disaster from an existential and ontological perspective constitute an important aspect of understanding the whole phenomenon. Concepts such as communion, understanding life and progression of suffering can help us construct an image of this previously unresearched dimension.
Terrorism and disasters receive massive media attention, and victims are often approached by reporters. Not much is known about how terror and disaster victims perceive the contact with media and whether such experiences influence mental health. In this study, we describe how positive and negative experiences with media relate to posttraumatic stress (PTS) reactions among survivors of the 2011 Ut?ya Island terrorist attack in Norway. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 285 survivors (47.0% female and 53.0% male) 14-15 months after the terrorist attack. Most survivors were approached by reporters (94%), and participated in media interviews (88%). The majority of survivors evaluated their media contact and participation as positive, and media participation was unrelated to PTS reactions. Survivors who found media participation distressing had more PTS reactions (quite distressing: B = 0.440, extremely distressing: B = 0.611, p = .004 in adjusted model). Perceiving media participation as distressing was slightly associated with lower levels of social support (r = -.16, p = .013), and regretting media participation was slightly associated with feeling let down (r = .18, p = .004). Reporters should take care when interviewing victims, and clinicians should be aware of media exposure as a potential additional strain on victims.
Regional Centre for Child and Youth Mental Health and Child Welfare, Uni Health, Uni Research, Bergen, Norway; Resource Centre on Violence, Traumatic Stress and Suicide Prevention, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
The July 22, 2011, Oslo Terror was defined as a national disaster. Former studies on terror attacks and mass shootings have shown elevated levels of posttraumatic complaints both in direct victims and in general populations. Little is known about how such extreme events in a generally safe society such as Norway would affect an adolescent population. This study examines posttraumatic stress reactions and changes in worldview in relationship to risk factors among 10,220 high school students using data from the ung@hordaland survey. One out of 5 respondents knew someone directly exposed, 55.7% experienced the events to some extent as threatening to their own or their close ones' lives, and 79.9% reported their worldview to be changed. For posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) DSM IV criteria, 0.8% reported substantial symptoms of reexperiencing (Criterion B), 4.9% of avoidance (Criterion C), and 1.1% of hyperarousal (Criterion D). Greater personal proximity to the events, higher levels of perceived life threat, and being a female or an immigrant predicted higher levels of PTSD symptom distress. Results indicate that the terror events made a deep impression on Norwegian adolescents, but without causing markedly elevated levels of PTSD symptomatology in the general young population.
In Finland, as many as 20 people have lost their lives in two school shootings within one year. This article describes trauma-theoretical rationale, planning, and implementation of acute and long-term psychosocial aftercare that was organized in Kauhajoki where one of the school shootings happened. The aftercare was embedded in the school community's everyday life to enhance easy access. The aftercare proceeded in 6 phases, involving the immediate support phase at the first 24 hr, the acute phase for the first 2 weeks, followed by a 5-month period of empowerment, normalization, and creating "a safe place." The habituation phase coincided with the completion of the renovation of the damaged school building and students returning to the scene. The first anniversary was marked by shared rituals and remembrance, and the follow-up phase lasted until the end of the aftercare in 2 years. The aftercare contained, for example, psychoeducation, screening, and services at community, group, and individual levels.