A school based study of psychological disturbance in children following the Omagh bomb

Maura McDermott, Michael Duffy, Andy Percy, Michael Fitzgerald, Claire Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
343 Downloads (Pure)


To assess the extent and nature of psychiatric morbidity among children (aged 8 to 13 years) 15 months after a car bomb explosion in the town of Omagh, Northern Ireland.

A survey was conducted of 1945 school children attending 13 schools in the Omagh district. Questionnaires included demographic details, measures of exposure, the Horowitz Impact of Events Scale, the Birleson Self-Rating Depression Scale, and the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale.

Children directly exposed to the bomb reported higher levels of probable PTSD (70%), and psychological distress than those not exposed. Direct exposure was more closely associated with an increase in PTSD symptoms than in general psychiatric distress. Significant predictors of increased IES scores included being male, witnessing people injured and reporting a perceived life threat but when co-morbid anxiety and depression are included as potential predictors anxiety remains the only significant predictor of PTSD scores.

School-based studies are a potentially valuable means of screening and assessing for PTSD in children after large-scale tragedies. Assessment should consider type of exposure, perceived life threat and other co-morbid anxiety as risk factors for PTSD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number36
Number of pages11
JournalChild and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2013


  • Children, PTSD, bombing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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