Americans Sicker Post-Sept. 11, 2001

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IRVINE, Calif., July 29 (UPI) — Doctor-diagnosed illness climbed by 18 percent in a nationally representative sample of adults In the three years following Sept. 11, 2001, researchers say.

E. Alison Holman, an assistant professor of nursing science and a health psychologist at University of California, Irvine, says the increase was highest among those with pre-existing health conditions, but people who were healthy before Sept. 11, 2001, also experienced an increase in physician-diagnosed ailments.

“We cannot underestimate the impact of collective stress on health,” Holman says in a statement. “People who work in health professions need to recognize symptoms related to stress and need to consider the potential effect of indirect exposure to extreme stress.”

Study co-authors Holman and Roxane Cohen Silver, a UCI professor, say the study involves almost 2,000 adults who completed Internet surveys in the days, months and years after Sept. 11, 2001, who disclosed whether a physician had diagnosed them with any of 35 illnesses and the number of times they had seen a doctor in the past year.

Sixty-three percent had viewed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks live on TV, and 4.5 percent had been directly exposed to them, the researchers say.

“Those who watched the attacks live on TV — as opposed to those who learned about them only after they happened — experienced a 28 percent rise in physical ailments over the following three years,” Holman says.

The study, published in the journal Social Science & Medicine, finds the percentage of the sample with at least one physician-diagnosed disorder over that period climbed from 79.2 percent to 89.5 percent.

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