Researchers can now access a standardized scaled questionnaire to evaluate subjects' exposure to the Sept. 11 attacks.
The instrument, provided by the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was created so that NIH researchers could incorporate recent terrorist events into studies already in progress, and for graduate students planning dissertation research on coping with the attacks.
Fran Norris, PhD, of Georgia State University, an expert in disaster research, created the instrument. Making it quickly available for those already doing studies, she says, was worth more than waiting to have it published. Researchers need a "standardized, validated measure of exposure," she says, since subject exposure level to the disasters could affect many studies, such as those examining social aspects of behavior.
The instrument is split into three modules: exposure to the attacks, loss of psychosocial resources and mental health outcomes. Norris warns, however, "it's a measure of exposure, not of full-range consequences."
Thus, the instrument is intended for those who were not direct victims of the attacks, she says. For example, there are no questions about qualities such as positive growth and resilience, she says. "It's intended to get [only] at the basic exposure element."
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