Monday, October 28, 2013

Time does not cure all: Long-term psychopathological consequences of terrorist attacks in Spain


Maria Paz Garcia Vera, Ph.D.
Department of Personality, Assessment and Clinical Psychology
Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), Spain

Monday, October 28th
12:00-1:00 pm
SBSG 1517


Dr. Garcia Vera's website
Further information about the study

Click "Read More" below for the abstract


Currently, terrorism is one of the most severe and alarming problems worldwide.  In Spain, we have been living with the consequences of terrorist attacks for more than forty years, attacks that have left thousands of  victims.

After a terrorist attack, an important percentage of victims will develop a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as other anxiety and depressive disorders, for which many will need short-term, medium-term, and long-term psychological treatment. It is still unknown the true magnitude of psychopathological consequences at long term, including at very long time periods (15, 25 years, or more)

The Association of Victims of Terrorism (AVT) of Spain assisted in obtaining a volunteer sample made up of 321 adults (54% females; age range =18-87 years; mean age = 50.1 years) who had been injured in a terrorist attack (n = 101) or who were direct relatives (parents, spouses or children) of someone who had died (n = 100) or had been injured (n = 120) in a terrorist attack. Terrorist attacks had occurred between 1.1 and 42.2 years ago, with a mean of 25.8 years

Within this context, this pilot study explores three questions:

  1. How is the long-term prevalence of PTSD, depressive disorders, and other anxiety disorders in the victims of terrorist attacks in Spain?
  2. How do differences in the characteristics (the presence of physical sequelae, degree of exposure, the time gone by since the attacks occurred) affect the probability that a victim will suffer a psychopathological disorder?
  3. How are these long-term levels of anxiety and depression in victims of terrorist attacks in comparison with those in the general population?

Results are discussed in terms of the long-term psychopathological repercussions of terrorist attacks and the need of providing psychological attention at the short, medium, and long term to direct and indirect victims.