Researcher-epidemiologists from Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx,  NY, screened for PTSD in 9/11 exposed firefighters at two different time points - within six months of the attacks and after 3-4 years post follow-up.

Five thousand six hundred fifty-six individuals completed assessments at both times. 15.5% reported probable PTSD post-9/11, 8.6% at baseline and 11.1% at follow-up, on average 2.9 (SD 0.5) years later.

Analyses revealed that nearly half of all probable PTSD occurred as delayed onset (absent baseline, present follow-up). Compared with the resilient group (no probable PTSD at either time), probable PTSD at baseline, and delayed onset at follow-up were each associated with functional impairments (OR 19.5 and 18.9), respectively.

Similar percentages of firefighters met criteria for baseline and delayed onset probable PTSD at follow-up, years later. Both were associated with substantial functional impairment.

Early risk identification could provide opportunities for mental health interventions before symptoms compromise work and social relationships.

Citation:  Berninger A, Webber MP, Niles JK, Gustave J, Lee R, Cohen HW, Kelly K, Corrigan M, Prezant DJ. Longitudinal study of probable post-traumatic stress disorder in firefighters exposed to the World Trade Center disaster. American Journal of  Industrial Medicine. 2010 Sep 22. [Epub ahead of print]