Researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University analyzed insurance claims from January 2000 to March 2002 for more than two million people living in the New York City region and enrolled in healthcare plans offered by Aetna. They then evaluated overall and specific healthcare usage in relationship to how far people lived from the World Trade Center (WTC). The study examined insurance claims for mental health conditions as well as a variety of physical conditions that may be triggered or aggravated by emotional stress.
"We were interested in learning how the attacks on the World Trade Center affected healthcare use in the weeks and months following the disaster," explained corresponding author James W. Buehler, MD, research professor, Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research and Department of Epidemiology at Rollins School of Public Health. "The alterations we found have implications for other disasters."
Dr. Buehler and his colleagues found that healthcare use slowed in the weeks immediately following the terrorist attacks. In addition, distance from the WTC affected the utilization of some health services, with the greatest declines observed among those residing closest to the WTC. For example, office visits were the most frequent form of healthcare use, and office visits declined 11 percent overall and 15 percent for those living within the 10-mile radius of the WTC. This drop in office visits represented 75,000 fewer office visits than expected during the 3 weeks after 9/1
Contact: Holly Korschun
Emory University Health Sciences Center