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Making a bad thing worse: effects of communication of results of an epidemiological study after an aviation disaster.
Soc Sci Med. 2007 Oct; 65(7):1430-41.SS

Abstract

Cognitions attributing health complaints to disaster exposure are associated with more severe health complaints and are therefore a promising target for interventions. Little is known about the best strategy to modify such cognitions following exposure to a technological disaster at the community level. In 1992, a Boeing 747 crashed in a residential area in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Persisting rumours about the possible toxic cargo of the plane led to increasing health concerns among the residents and rescue workers involved in the disaster. The current study investigates (a) the effectiveness of providing information on the health consequences of exposure to the aviation disaster to residents and rescue workers with varying degrees of exposure to the disaster, and (b) individual characteristics which may moderate the effectiveness of the health information provided. A total of 1019 rescue workers and 453 residents involved with varying degrees in the disaster participated in an epidemiological investigation and 1736 rescue workers and 339 residents, all involved, participated in an individual medical examination. Participants were assessed at baseline and 6 weeks after communication of the results of the epidemiological study. Main outcome measures evaluated health anxiety, somatic sensitivity, reassurance by a physician, psychopathology, post-traumatic stress symptoms, fatigue and quality of life. All participants reported elevated levels of psychopathology and fatigue, increased anxiety and uncertainties about their health 6 weeks after communication of the study results irrespective of the degree of exposure to the disaster. In particular, the conviction that health complaints were caused by toxic exposure was related to more severe health complaints and worries in both rescue workers and residents. Our study shows that communication about the health consequences of exposure to an aviation disaster at the community level has no symptom reducing or reassuring effects. Tailoring of the communication to individual characteristics such as existing expectancies may enhance its impact.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. verschuu@fsw.leidenuniv.nlNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info availableNo affiliation info available

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

17576032

Citation

Verschuur, M, et al. "Making a Bad Thing Worse: Effects of Communication of Results of an Epidemiological Study After an Aviation Disaster." Social Science & Medicine (1982), vol. 65, no. 7, 2007, pp. 1430-41.
Verschuur M, Spinhoven P, van Emmerik A, et al. Making a bad thing worse: effects of communication of results of an epidemiological study after an aviation disaster. Soc Sci Med. 2007;65(7):1430-41.
Verschuur, M., Spinhoven, P., van Emmerik, A., & Rosendaal, F. (2007). Making a bad thing worse: effects of communication of results of an epidemiological study after an aviation disaster. Social Science & Medicine (1982), 65(7), 1430-41.
Verschuur M, et al. Making a Bad Thing Worse: Effects of Communication of Results of an Epidemiological Study After an Aviation Disaster. Soc Sci Med. 2007;65(7):1430-41. PubMed PMID: 17576032.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Making a bad thing worse: effects of communication of results of an epidemiological study after an aviation disaster. AU - Verschuur,M, AU - Spinhoven,P, AU - van Emmerik,A, AU - Rosendaal,F, Y1 - 2007/06/18/ PY - 2006/10/02/received PY - 2007/6/20/pubmed PY - 2008/1/18/medline PY - 2007/6/20/entrez SP - 1430 EP - 41 JF - Social science & medicine (1982) JO - Soc Sci Med VL - 65 IS - 7 N2 - Cognitions attributing health complaints to disaster exposure are associated with more severe health complaints and are therefore a promising target for interventions. Little is known about the best strategy to modify such cognitions following exposure to a technological disaster at the community level. In 1992, a Boeing 747 crashed in a residential area in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Persisting rumours about the possible toxic cargo of the plane led to increasing health concerns among the residents and rescue workers involved in the disaster. The current study investigates (a) the effectiveness of providing information on the health consequences of exposure to the aviation disaster to residents and rescue workers with varying degrees of exposure to the disaster, and (b) individual characteristics which may moderate the effectiveness of the health information provided. A total of 1019 rescue workers and 453 residents involved with varying degrees in the disaster participated in an epidemiological investigation and 1736 rescue workers and 339 residents, all involved, participated in an individual medical examination. Participants were assessed at baseline and 6 weeks after communication of the results of the epidemiological study. Main outcome measures evaluated health anxiety, somatic sensitivity, reassurance by a physician, psychopathology, post-traumatic stress symptoms, fatigue and quality of life. All participants reported elevated levels of psychopathology and fatigue, increased anxiety and uncertainties about their health 6 weeks after communication of the study results irrespective of the degree of exposure to the disaster. In particular, the conviction that health complaints were caused by toxic exposure was related to more severe health complaints and worries in both rescue workers and residents. Our study shows that communication about the health consequences of exposure to an aviation disaster at the community level has no symptom reducing or reassuring effects. Tailoring of the communication to individual characteristics such as existing expectancies may enhance its impact. SN - 0277-9536 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/17576032/Making_a_bad_thing_worse:_effects_of_communication_of_results_of_an_epidemiological_study_after_an_aviation_disaster_ L2 - https://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S0277-9536(07)00276-6 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -