Tags: september | tv | trama

Traumatic TV Images Harm Health: Study

Wednesday, 12 Sep 2012 12:55 PM

The repeatedly broadcast of images from the September 11 attacks and Iraq War may have had a wider impact on Americans’ health and well-being. New research out of the University of California-Irvine found watching extensive TV coverage of the historic and violent news events placed some people at risk for physical and psychological ailments.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, sheds light on the lingering effects of "collective traumas" such as natural disasters, mass shootings and terrorist attacks, researchers concluded. A steady diet of graphic media images may have long-lasting mental and physical health consequences, said lead researcher Roxane Cohen Silver, a specialist in psychology, 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."
For the study, Silver and colleagues tracked people who watched more than four hours a day of 9/11 and Iraq War-related TV coverage in the weeks after the attacks and at the start of the war. They found that such individuals reported high rates of both acute and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Some who watched more than four hours a day of 9/11-related coverage also reported physician-diagnosed physical health ailments as many as three years later.
The study included assessments of participants' mental and physical health before the 9/11 attacks and information about their media exposure and acute stress levels immediately after the attacks and the start of the Iraq War, and three years later.
Almost 12 percent of the 1,322 participants reported high levels of stress related to 9/11 and about 7 percent reported high levels of stress tied to the Iraq War.
"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 said. "Our findings are both relevant and timely as vivid images reach larger audiences than ever before through YouTube, social media and smartphones."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

© HealthDay

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Watching extensive TV coverage of the September 11 attacks put people at risk for mental, physical ills.
Wednesday, 12 Sep 2012 12:55 PM
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