African-American adolescents' stress responses after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks

Vernon A. Barnes, Frank A. Treiber, David A. Ludwig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Purpose: To examine the impact of indirect exposure to the 9/11/01 attacks upon physical and emotional stress-related responses in a community sample of African-American (AA) adolescents. Methods: Three months after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, 406 AA adolescents (mean age [SD] of 16.1 ± 1.3 years) from an inner-city high school in Augusta, GA were evaluated with a 12-item 5-point Likert scale measuring loss of psychosocial resources (PRS) such as control, hope, optimism, and perceived support, a 17-item 5-point Likert scale measuring post-traumatic stress symptomatology (PCL), and measures of state and trait anger, anger expression, and hostility. Given the observational nature of the study, statistical differences and correlations were evaluated for effect size before statistical testing (5% minimum variance explained). Bootstrapping was used for testing mean differences and differences between correlations. Results: PCL scores indicated that approximately 10% of the sample was experiencing probable clinically significant levels of post-traumatic distress (PCL score > 50). The PCL and PRS were moderately correlated with a r = .59. Gender differences for the PCL and PRS were small, accounting for 1% of the total variance. Higher PCL scores were associated with higher state anger (r = .47), as well as measures of anger-out (r = .32) and trait anger (r = .34). Higher PRS scores were associated only with higher state anger (r = .27). Scores on the two 9/11/01-related scales were not statistically associated (i.e., less than 5% of the variance explained) with traits of anger control, anger-in, or hostility. Conclusions: The majority of students were not overly stressed by indirect exposure to the events of 9/11/01, perhaps owing to the temporal, social, and/or geographical distance from the event. Those who reported greater negative impact appeared to also be experiencing higher levels of current anger and exhibited a characterologic style of higher overt anger expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-207
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • African-American
  • Anger
  • Hostility
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • September 11, 2001 attacks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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