vol. II, num. 1, 2004

Full and subthreshold Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder seven years after a flooding in rescue squads

Mario Di Fiorino*, Gabriele Massimetti **, Massimo Nencioni*, Riccardo A. Paoli*
*Psychiatric Department Versilia, Italy; **University of Pisa, Italy

Full and subthreshold Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder seven years after a flooding in rescue squads

Summary. Aims: In this study, we decided to evaluate after 7 years the frequency and severity of PTSD on ambulance personnel employed in assistance operation of 1996 Cardoso's flood. Methods: The ambulance personnel sample was formed by 34 subjects. The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-IV and the Davidson Trauma Scale were used for assessing diagnosis and PTSD symptoms, respectively. Results: In lifetime period, 52,9% (N=18) of patients, had full PTSD, 14,7% (N=5) subthreshold PTSD with impairment, 14,7% (N=5) subthreshold PTSD without impairment, and 17,7% (N=6) had no PTSD. In current period, 11,8% (N=4) of patients, had full PTSD, 11,8% (N=4) subthreshold PTSD with impairment, 17,6% (N=6) subthreshold PTSD without impairment, and 58,8% (N=20) no PTSD; 1 patient (female) had delayed onset full PTSD after 1 year, 1 (female) had delayed onset subthreshold PTSD with impairment after 2 year, and 2 patients (both males) had delayed onset subthreshold PTSD without impairment after 2 years. Furthermore, scores on DTS show that not only full PTSD, but even the subthreshold form is associated with scores significantly higher than no PTSD (p<.05). Discussion: This study shows the persistence of a level of PTSD morbidity 7 years after the event, suggesting that even in emergency workers the psychosocial impact of the event is not time-limited, emphasizing the need for preventive interventions, both immediately after the catastrophic event and in the long term. Moreover, also for emergency workers is confirmed the concept that dichotomizing people into those with and without PTSD following DSM-IV criteria represents a simplification that obscures the clinical problems and needs of those with some, but not full, symptom criteria of PTSD.


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