The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, established a backdrop
against which mental health effects of disasters, especially large-scale intentionally
created disasters, assumed central stage in US public health. Methodologically
sound data are required to understand the mental health effects of terrorism
and must guide all postdisaster mental health activities from clinical interventions
to administrative policy. However, conducting methodologically solid epidemiologic
investigations of mental health is extraordinarily difficult in the chaotic
and complex settings of disasters, particularly those associated with terrorism.1- 4 The study
by Schlenger and colleagues5 reported in this
issue of THE JOURNAL assessed postdisaster mental health in one of the most
complex and challenging disaster settings in US history.
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