Content » Vol 51, Issue 3

Original report

Clinical characteristics and physical functioning in persons hospitalized following the Norwegian terror attacks in July 2011: A follow up study

Grethe Månum, Marianne Løvstad, Kristin Wisløff-Aase, Johan Ræder, Anne-Kristine Schanke, Ingar Larsen, Grete Dyb, Øivind Ekeberg, Johan K. Stanghelle
Department of Research, Sunnaas Rehabilitation Hospital, NO-14555 Nesoddtangen, Norway. E-mail: grethe.manum@sunnaas.no
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2521

Abstract

Objective: To describe the clinical characteristics and physical functioning in persons hospitalized after 2 terror attacks in Norway in 2011.
Design: Cross-sectional study with retrospective acute medical data.
Subjects: Surviving persons hospitalized with physical injuries.
Methods: Medical and psychological assessments 3–4 years after injury, with data on injury type and severity collected from medical records.
Results: A total of 30 out of 43 potential subjects participated (19 women, 11 men; age range 17–71 years (median 23 years)). Eighteen participants had suffered a severe injury, with New Injury Severity Scale (NISS) scores > 15. All body parts were affected. The number of surgical procedures ranged from 0 to 22 (median 3), and days in intensive care ranged from 0 to 59 (median 2.5), of which 16 had more than 24 h intensive care. Three to 4 years later, a majority of the participants had a broad spectrum of somatic and psychological problems and reduced physical functioning. Two-thirds of the participants reported their physical health to be unsatisfactory, and continuous need for healthcare and unmet needs were identified for all except 4 of the participants.
Conclusion: Persons hospitalized following a terror attack experience a broad spectrum of somatic and psychological problems and need long-term physical and psychological follow-up. This study indicates specific needs for rehabilitation after injuries acquired under psychological traumatic circumstances.

Lay Abstract

Victims of terror are at major risk of long-term post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical sequelae. Prior research after terrorist attacks has focused primarily on PTSD and the need for mental health services, where being injured has been seen as an indicator of high exposure to the traumatic event and a predictor of the level of psychological distress, rather than as a risk factor for function and healthcare needs. Similar to survivors of natural disasters, the impairments after terror attacks vary in severity, and might include spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injury, limb amputation, fractures, soft-tissue injuries, and psychological sequelae. This study investigated the medical characteristics, physical functioning, and life satisfaction of people hospitalized with physical injuries due to the 2011 Norway terror events approximately 3 years after the attacks. The assessments revealed a broad spectrum of somatic and psychological problems, reduced physical functioning, and a continuous need for healthcare.

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