The effects of the Omagh bomb on adolescent mental health: a school-based study

Michael Duffy, Maura McDermott, Andrew Percy, Anke Ehlers, David M Clarke, Michael Fitzgerald, John Moriarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
378 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The main objective of this study was to assess psychiatric morbidity among adolescentsfollowing the Omagh car bombing in Northern Ireland in 1998.

Methods: Data was collected within schools from adolescents aged between 14 and 18 years via a selfcompletionbooklet comprised of established predictors of PTSD; type of exposure, initialemotional response, long-term adverse physical problems, predictors derived from Ehlers andClark’s (2000) cognitive model, a PTSD symptoms measure (PDS) and the General HealthQuestionnaire (GHQ).

Results:Those with more direct physical exposure were significantly more likely to meet caseness onthe GHQ and the PDS. The combined pre and peri trauma risk factors highlighted in previousmeta-analyses accounted for 20% of the variance in PDS scores but the amount of varianceaccounted for increased to 56% when the variables highlighted in Ehlers and Clark’scognitive model for PTSD were added.

Conclusions: High rates of chronic PTSD were observed in adolescents exposed to the bombing. Whilstincreased exposure was associated with increased psychiatric morbidity, the best predictors ofPTSD were specific aspects of the trauma (‘seeing someone you think is dying’), what youare thinking during the event (‘think you are going to die’) and the cognitive mechanismsemployed after the trauma. As these variables are in principle amenable to treatment theresults have implications for teams planning treatment interventions after future traumas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number18
Early online date06 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Bombs
  • Disasters
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Northern Ireland
  • Risk Factors
  • Schools
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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