Document Detail

Posttraumatic stress symptoms, intrusive thoughts, loss, and immune function after Hurricane Andrew.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  9088048     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of and relationship between exposure to Hurricane Andrew, a severe stressor, posttraumatic stress symptoms and immune measures. METHODS: Blood draws and questionnaires were taken from community volunteer subjects living in the damaged neighborhoods between 1 and 4 months after the Hurricane. RESULTS: The sample exhibited high levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms by questionnaire (33% overall; 76% with at least one symptom cluster), and 44% scored in the high impact range on the Impact of Events (IES) scale. A substantial proportion of variance in posttraumatic stress symptoms could be accounted for by four hurricane experience variables (damage, loss, life threat, and injury), with perceived loss being the highest correlate. Of the five immune measures studied Natural Killer Cell Cytotoxicity (NKCC) was the only measure that was meaningfully related (negatively) to both damage and psychological variables (loss, intrusive thoughts, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). White blood cell counts (WBCs) were significantly positively related with the degree of loss and PTSD experienced. Both NKCC (lower) and WBC were significantly related to retrospective self-reported increase of somatic symptoms after the hurricane. Overall, the community sample was significantly lower in NKCC, CD4 and CD8 number, and higher in NK cell number compared to laboratory controls. Finally, evidence was found for new onset of sleep problems as a mediator of the posttraumatic symptom-NKCC relationship. CONCLUSIONS: Several immune measures differed from controls after Hurricane Andrew. Negative (intrusive) thoughts and PTSD were related to lower NKCC. Loss was a key correlate of both posttraumatic symptoms and immune (NKCC, WBC) measures.
G Ironson; C Wynings; N Schneiderman; A Baum; M Rodriguez; D Greenwood; C Benight; M Antoni; A LaPerriere; H S Huang; N Klimas; M A Fletcher
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Psychosomatic medicine     Volume:  59     ISSN:  0033-3174     ISO Abbreviation:  Psychosom Med     Publication Date:    1997 Mar-Apr
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1997-06-12     Completed Date:  1997-06-12     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0376505     Medline TA:  Psychosom Med     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  128-41     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida 33124, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Biopterin / analogs & derivatives,  blood
Cytotoxicity, Immunologic / immunology
General Adaptation Syndrome / immunology
Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
Life Change Events
Lymphocyte Count
Mental Recall / physiology*
Middle Aged
Personality Assessment
Psychophysiologic Disorders / diagnosis,  immunology,  psychology
Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis,  immunology*,  psychology
T-Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
Thinking / physiology*
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
22150-76-1/Biopterin; 670-65-5/Neopterin
Comment In:
Psychosom Med. 1997 Mar-Apr;59(2):142-3   [PMID:  9088049 ]

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