After 9/11: Goal Disruption, Emotional Support, and Psychological Health in a Lower Exposure Sample

Erina L. MacGeorge
Wendy Samter, Bryant University
Bo Feng
Seth J. Gillihan
Angela R. Graves

Document Type Article

Published in Health Communication, volume 21 issue 1, 2007. Bryant users may access this article here.


The terrorist attacks of 9/11 were traumatic even for Americans who were not directly victimized or in the geographic vicinity. This study examined whether emotional support received through interaction with others buffered the association between terrorism-related stress and psychological health (depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms) for individuals with lower exposure to the attacks. Five hundred eleven college students from an eastern university completed measures of goal disruption (stress) from terrorism, received emotional support, and psychological health in the first 2 weeks of December 2001. The results indicate that received emotional support moderated the relationship between goal disruption and depression and somatic symptoms. These findings suggest that the provision of emotional support should be understood as a fundamental communication skill relevant to recovery from disaster events.