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Media exposure to mass violence events can fuel a cycle of distress.

  • Author(s): Thompson, Rebecca R
  • Jones, Nickolas M
  • Holman, E Alison
  • Silver, Roxane Cohen
  • et al.
Abstract

The established link between trauma-related media exposure and distress may be cyclical: Distress can increase subsequent trauma-related media consumption that promotes increased distress to later events. We tested this hypothesis in a 3-year longitudinal study following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre using a national U.S. sample (N = 4165). Data were collected shortly after the bombings, 6 and 24 months post-bombings, and beginning 5 days after the Pulse nightclub massacre (approximately 1 year later; 36 months post-bombings). Bombing-related media exposure predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS) 6 months later; PTS predicted worry about future negative events 2 years after the bombings, which predicted increased media consumption and acute stress following the Pulse nightclub massacre 1 year later. Trauma-related media exposure perpetuates a cycle of high distress and media use.

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