Open J Psychiatry Allied Sci. 2018;9:152-6. doi: 10.5958/2394-2061.2018.00032.0. Epub 2018 Feb 28.

Media exposure to earthquake-related content in its aftermath as a risk factor for acute stress disorder.

Sampath H, Soohinda G, Sharma A, Dutta S.


Background: Introduced in DSM-IV, acute stress disorder (ASD) is a psychiatric diagnosis characterised by severe anxiety, dissociation, intrusive thoughts, and other symptoms occurring within one month of experiencing a traumatic event. Research indicates that ASD may place individuals at increased risk of developing chronic posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is growing evidence that increased media exposure to traumatic events is a risk factor for the development of posttraumatic symptomatology. Aims: We hypothesised that in the aftermath of a natural disaster, excessive exposure to television and Internet coverage might be a risk factor for ASD. Methods: Using a cross-sectional study design in a sample of 300 medical and nursing college students exposed to an earthquake, ASD was assessed with the Stanford Acute Stress Disorder Questionnaire (SARSQ) and media exposure by an interview to capture exposure to earthquake-related news via television and Internet. Results: Thirty six students developed ASD (12%). The odds of greater exposure to earthquake-related content via television was 1.93 times more (95% CI 1.02-3.66, p-value=0.042) and Internet 2.28 times more (95% CI 1.18-4.41, p-value=0.015) in students who developed ASD than those who did not. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that excessive exposure to earthquake-related media content via television and Internet in its aftermath is associated with a statistically significant risk of developing ASD.


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