Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Repeated exposure to traumatic images may be harmful to health

Date:
September 4, 2012
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
Repeated exposure to violent images from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Iraq War led to an increase in physical and psychological ailments in a nationally representative sample of US adults, according to a new study.

Repeated exposure to violent images from the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Iraq War led to an increase in physical and psychological ailments in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults, according to a new UC Irvine study.

The study sheds light on the lingering effects of "collective traumas" such as natural disasters, mass shootings and terrorist attacks. A steady diet of graphic media images may have long-lasting mental and physical health consequences, says study author Roxane Cohen Silver, UCI professor of psychology & social behavior, medicine and public health.

"I would not advocate restricting nor censoring war images for the psychological well-being of the public," Silver said. "Instead, I think it's important for people to be aware that there is no psychological benefit to repeated exposure to graphic images of horror."

People who watched more than four hours a day of 9/11- and Iraq War-related television coverage (in the weeks after the attacks and at the start of the war) reported both acute and post-traumatic stress symptoms over time. Those who watched more than four hours a day of 9/11-related coverage in the weeks after the attacks reported physician-diagnosed physical health ailments two to three years later.

Seeing two particular kinds of images in the early days of the Iraq War was associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms over time: soldiers engaged in battle and dead U.S. and Allied soldiers.

The study included assessments of participants' mental and physical health before the 9/11 attacks and information about their media exposure and acute stress responses immediately after the attacks and after the initiation of the Iraq War. Researchers conducted follow up assessments in the three years after 9/11.

The acute stress period refers to the first few weeks after the event and post-traumatic stress is any time after one month. Researchers started to measure stress nine to 14 days after 9/11 and within a few days after the start of the Iraq War.

Almost 12 percent of the 1,322 participants reported high levels of acute stress related to 9/11 and about 7 percent reported high levels of acute stress related to the Iraq War. After taking pre-9/11 mental health, demographic characteristics, and lifetime trauma exposure into account, people who watched four or more hours of 9/11- or Iraq War-related television were more likely to experience symptoms of acute stress.

"The results suggest that exposure to graphic media images may be an important mechanism through which the impact of collective trauma is dispersed widely," Silver says. "Our findings are both relevant and timely as vivid images reach larger audiences than ever before through YouTube, social media and smartphones."

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the study appears in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science, the flagship journal of the Association for Psychological Science. It was co-authored by Alison Holman, assistant professor of nursing at UCI; Judith Pizarro Andersen of the University of Toronto, Mississauga; Michael Poulin of the University at Buffalo; Daniel McIntosh of the University of Denver; and Virginia Gil-Rivas of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte.

"When we consider that graphic images of individuals being overcome by the 2011 tsunami in Japan were shown repeatedly, that a vigorous debate occurred last year regarding the release of the gruesome death photos of Osama bin Laden, and that vivid and disturbing images of 9/11 will likely appear on our television screens marking the anniversary of the attacks, we believe that our paper has something important to say regarding the impact of repeated exposure to graphic traumatic images," Silver said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Irvine. "Repeated exposure to traumatic images may be harmful to health." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904150108.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2012, September 4). Repeated exposure to traumatic images may be harmful to health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904150108.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Repeated exposure to traumatic images may be harmful to health." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120904150108.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins