Cumulative exposure to work-related traumatic events and current post-traumatic stress disorder in New York City's first responders

Lupo Geronazzo-Alman, Ruth Eisenberg, Sa Shen, Cristiane S. Duarte, George J. Musa, Judith Wicks, Bin Fan, Thao Doan, Guia Guffanti, Michaeline Bresnahan, Christina W. Hoven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and objectives Cumulative exposure to work-related traumatic events (CE) is a foreseeable risk for psychiatric disorders in first responders (FRs). Our objective was to examine the impact of work-related CE that could serve as predictor of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression in FRs. Design Cross-sectional examination of previous CE and past-month PTSD outcomes and depression in 209 FRs. Methods Logistic (probable PTSD; probable depression) and Poisson regressions (PTSD score) of the outcomes on work-related CE indexes, adjusting for demographic variables. Differences across occupational groups were also examined. Receiver operating characteristic analysis determined the sensitivity and specificity of CE indexes. Results All indexes were significantly and differently associated with PTSD; associations with depression were non-significant. The index capturing the sheer number of different incidents experienced regardless of frequency (‘Variety’) showed conceptual, practical and statistical advantages compared to other indexes. In general, the indexes showed poor to fair discrimination accuracy. Conclusions Work-related CE is specifically associated with PTSD. Focusing on the variety of exposures may be a simple and effective strategy to predict PTSD in FRs. Further research on sensitivity and specificity of exposure indexes, preferably examined prospectively, is needed and could lead to early identification of individuals at risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-143
Number of pages10
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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