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Comparison of health outcomes among affiliated and lay disaster volunteers enrolled in the World Trade Center Health Registry.

Debchoudhury-I; Welch-AE; Fairclough-MA; Cone-JE; Brackbill-RM; Stellman-SD; Farfel-MR
Prev Med 2011 Dec; 53(6):359-363
BACKGROUND: Volunteers (non-professional rescue/recovery workers) are universally present at man-made and natural disasters and share experiences and exposures with victims. Little is known of their disaster-related health outcomes. METHODS: We studied 4974 adult volunteers who completed the World Trade Center Health Registry 2006-07 survey to examine associations between volunteer type (affiliated vs. lay) and probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); new or worsening respiratory symptoms; post-9/11 first diagnosis of anxiety disorder, depression, and/or PTSD; and asthma or reactive airway dysfunction syndrome (RADS). Affiliated volunteers reported membership in a recognized organization. Lay volunteers reported no organizational affiliation and occupations unrelated to rescue/recovery work. Adjusted odds ratios (OR(adj)) were calculated using multinomial regression. RESULTS: Lay volunteers were more likely than affiliated volunteers to have been present in lower Manhattan, experience the dust cloud, horrific events and injury on 9/11 and subsequently to report unmet healthcare needs. They had greater odds of early post-9/11 mental health diagnosis (OR(adj) 1.6; 95% CI: 1.4-2.0) and asthma/RADS (1.8; 1.2-2.7), chronic PTSD (2.2; 1.7-2.8), late-onset PTSD (1.9; 1.5-2.5), and new or worsening lower respiratory symptoms (2.0; 1.8-2.4). CONCLUSIONS: Lay volunteers' poorer health outcomes reflect earlier, more intense exposure to and lack of protection from physical and psychological hazards. There is a need to limit volunteers' exposures during and after disasters, as well as to provide timely screening and health care post-disaster.
Surveillance-programs; Emergency-responders; Rescue-workers; Medical-screening; Medical-services; Health-care; Health-programs; Health-services; Health-surveys; Stress; Mental-stress; Respiratory-system-disorders; Bronchial-asthma; Airway-obstruction; Physiological-stress; Psychological-stress; Inhalants; Environmental-contamination; Environmental-exposure; Epidemiology; Author Keywords: Volunteers; Affiliated Volunteers; Lay Volunteers; Rescue and Recovery; September 11th; Disaster; Mental Health; Physical Health; World Trade Center
Indira Debchoudhury, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, World Trade Center Health Registry, 2 Gotham Center, 42-09 28th Street, 7th Floor, Queens, NY 11101, USA
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Journal Article
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Cooperative Agreement
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Preventive Medicine
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New York City Health/Mental Hygiene