Media exposure to mass violence events can fuel a cycle of distress
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aav3502
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.