Attribution of Physical Complaints to the Air Disaster in Amsterdam by Exposed Rescue Workers: An Epidemiological Study Using Historic Cohorts

Slottje, Pauline, Smidt, Nynke, Twisk, Jos W. R., Huizink, Anja C., Witteveen, Anke B., Van Mechelen, Willem and Smid, Tjabe (2006) Attribution of Physical Complaints to the Air Disaster in Amsterdam by Exposed Rescue Workers: An Epidemiological Study Using Historic Cohorts. BioMed Central Public Health, 6 Article No. 142. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-142


Author Slottje, Pauline
Smidt, Nynke
Twisk, Jos W. R.
Huizink, Anja C.
Witteveen, Anke B.
Van Mechelen, Willem
Smid, Tjabe
Title Attribution of Physical Complaints to the Air Disaster in Amsterdam by Exposed Rescue Workers: An Epidemiological Study Using Historic Cohorts
Journal name BioMed Central Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 2006-05-30
Year available 2006
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-6-142
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 6
Start page Article No. 142
Total pages 11
Editor Melissa Norton
Place of publication London, U.K.
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Subject 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Formatted abstract
Background

In 1992 a cargo aircraft crashed into a residential area of Amsterdam. A troublesome aftermath followed, with rumors on potential toxic exposures and health consequences. Health concerns remained even though no excess morbidity was predicted in retrospective risk evaluations. This study aimed to assess to what extent the rescue workers attribute long-term physical complaints to this disaster, including its aftermath, and to examine associations between such attribution and types of exposure and background variables.

Methods

Historic cohort study that collected questionnaire data on occupational disaster exposure, attribution of physical complaints, and background variables on average 8.5 years post-disaster. For the present study the workers who were exposed to the disaster were selected from the historic cohort, i.e. the professional firefighters (n = 334), police officers (n = 834), and accident and wreckage investigators (n = 241) who performed disaster-related tasks.

Results

Across the three occupational groups, a consistent percentage (ranging from 43% to 49%) of exposed workers with long-term physical complaints attributed these to the disaster, including its aftermath. Those with more physical complaints attributed these to a stronger degree. Multivariate logistic regression analyses showed that attribution was significantly more often reported by firefighters who rescued people, and by police officers who reported the identification and recovery of or search for victims and human remains, clean-up, or security and surveillance of the disaster area; who witnessed the immediate disaster scene; who had a close one affected by the disaster; and who perceived the disaster as the worst thing that ever happened to them. Age, sex and educational level were not significantly associated with attribution.

Conclusion

This study provides further cross-sectional evidence for the role of causal attribution in post-disaster subjective physical health problems. After on average 8.5 years, almost a third (32%) of all the exposed workers, and almost half (45%) of the exposed workers with physical complaints, attributed these complaints to the disaster, including its aftermath. The similarity of the results across the occupational groups suggests a general rather than an occupation-specific attribution process. Longitudinal studies are needed to determine whether causal disaster attribution leads to persistence of post-disaster complaints and health care utilization.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Unknown

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
 
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Created: Mon, 30 Mar 2009, 23:45:32 EST by Mary-Anne Marrington on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences