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Medical/Clinical Study: Rapid Assessment of the Psychological Impact of Mass Casualties


To quickly provide a valid description of psychological symptoms in the aftermath of a mass casualty event to determine the need for mental health services and to allocate resources appropriately.

Who would use the data?

Medical and public health professionals, and other community policymakers and planners who must prepare for future mass casualty events.

Research questions:

  • What is the prevalence of acute stress/posttraumatic stress- related symptoms, anxiety-spectrum symptoms, depression-spectrum symptoms, and problematic drinking symptoms among individuals exposed to an event?
  • What are the correlates of the psychological symptoms (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, occupation)?
  • What is the prevalence of professional help-seeking behavior among victims?
  • What are the correlates of professional help-seeking (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, nature of exposure, severity of symptoms)?


  • Target population: Individuals directly and/or indirectly exposed to the event
  • Study design: Cross-sectional telephone survey of English-speaking adults (> 18 years of age)
  • Sampling plan: Random digit dialing of households

Data source:

Participant self-report

Sample variables:

Age, race/ethnicity, sex, employment status, marital status, education, nature of exposure, acute stress/posttraumatic stress symptoms, anxiety-spectrum symptoms, depression-spectrum symptoms, problematic drinking, and professional help-seeking.


See Mental Health Survey Tool.

Time frame for initiating study:

One to three weeks after the mass casualty event.

Potential partners/collaborators:

  • State and local health departments
  • Local university researchers
  • CDC, NCIPC staff

IRB needed:

No, this is public health practice.

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