Studies of the vicarious traumatization of college students by the September 11th attacks: Effects of proximity, exposure and connectedness

Edward B. Blanchard, Eric Kuhn, Dianna L. Rowell, Edward J. Hickling, David Wittrock, Rebecca L. Rogers, Michelle R. Johnson, Debra C. Steckler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Scopus citations


From mid-October 2001 through the end of November 2001, we collected fairly large sets of questionnaires from undergraduates at three public universities (Albany, NY, n = 507, Augusta, GA, n = 336, Fargo, ND, n = 526) to assess rate of acute stress disorder (ASD) and level of ASD symptoms following the September 11th attacks, rate of current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and level of PTSD symptoms, and current level of depressive symptoms resulting from the September 11th attacks. We also gathered information on exposure to media coverage of the attacks, connectedness to the World Trade Center (WTC) and personnel there, and degree of engagement in reparative acts such as giving blood, attending vigils. We found higher levels of ASD, ASD symptoms, PTSD and PTSD symptoms as a function of geographical proximity to New York City (and within the Albany site, proximity of students' homes) and gender. Exposure (hours of TV watched) was a predictor in some instances as was connectedness to WTC victims. ASD symptoms were the strongest predictor of subsequent PTSD symptoms. Path models accounted for over 60% of the variance in PTSD symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2004



  • Acute stress disorder
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Proximity
  • September 11
  • Terrorism
  • Vicarious traumatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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