Methodological challenges in assessing general population reactions in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack

G. James Rubin, Richard Amlot, Lisa Page, Simon Wessely

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Assessing mental health needs following a disaster is important, particularly within high-risk groups such as first responders or individuals who found themselves directly caught up in the incident. Particularly following events involving widespread destruction, ingenuity and hard work are required to successfully study these issues. When considering responses among the general population following less devastating events such as a conventional terrorist attack, or following an event involving a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agent, other variables may become more relevant for determining the population's overall psychosocial well-being. Trust, perceived risk, sense of safety, willingness to take prophylaxis and unnecessary attendance at medical facilities will all be important in determining the overall psychological, medical, economic and political impact of such attacks. Assessing these variables can help government agencies and non-governmental organizations to adjust their communication and outreach efforts. As there is often a need to provide these data quickly, telephone surveys using short time-windows for data collection or which use quota samples are often required. It is unclear whether slower, more conventional and more expensive survey methods with better response rates would produce results different enough to these quicker and cheaper methods to have a major impact on any resulting policy decisions. This empirical question would benefit from further study. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S29 - S35
JournalInternational Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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