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Cumulative exposure to prior collective trauma and acute stress responses to the Boston marathon bombings.

  • Author(s): Garfin, Dana Rose
  • Holman, E Alison
  • Silver, Roxane Cohen
  • et al.
Abstract

The role of repeated exposure to collective trauma in explaining response to subsequent community-wide trauma is poorly understood. We examined the relationship between acute stress response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and prior direct and indirect media-based exposure to three collective traumatic events: the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks, Superstorm Sandy, and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Representative samples of residents of metropolitan Boston (n = 846) and New York City (n = 941) completed Internet-based surveys shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings. Cumulative direct exposure and indirect exposure to prior community trauma and acute stress symptoms were assessed. Acute stress levels did not differ between Boston and New York metropolitan residents. Cumulative direct and indirect, live-media-based exposure to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy, and the Sandy Hook shooting were positively associated with acute stress responses in the covariate-adjusted model. People who experience multiple community-based traumas may be sensitized to the negative impact of subsequent events, especially in communities previously exposed to similar disasters.

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