A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Is Viewing Mass Trauma Television Coverage Associated With Trauma Reactions in Adults and Youth? A Meta‐Analytic Review


Is Viewing Mass Trauma Television Coverage Associated With Trauma Reactions in Adults and Youth? A Meta‐Analytic Review

Abstract: 

This study presents the findings of meta‐analyses examining the association between viewing mass trauma television coverage and posttraumatic stress (PTS) outcomes as well as acute stress reactions (ASR) among adults and youth. A literature search identified 43 (N = 31,162) studies assessing the association between viewing mass trauma television coverage and PTS and four (N = 9,083) assessing the association with ASR. The overall size of the association between viewing television coverage and PTS, estimated using a random‐effect model, was small but statistically significant, r = .17, 95% CI [.13, .22]. The moderator analysis examined eight preselected variables: man‐made versus natural trauma, specific incident versus chronic stressor, adult versus youth sample, proximal versus distal event exposure, television only versus combined media form, specific content in coverage versus no specific content, quantification of media contact using numeric measurement versus subjective measurement versus a binary item, and posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) versus posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) outcome. The analysis revealed a statistically significant moderation effect for the quantification of media contact (numeric vs. subjective vs. binary) only, which accounted for 19% of the observed heterogeneity. With a summary estimate of r = .26, 95% CI [.06, .44], the analysis of the ASR studies corroborated the PTS findings. The results suggest that clinicians and public health practitioners should discuss mass trauma television viewing with their patients and with the public. Limitations of the extant research are discussed.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Pfefferbaum, Betty, Pascal Nitiema, and Elana Newman. 2019. "Is Viewing Mass Trauma Television Coverage Associated With Trauma Reactions in Adults and Youth? A Meta‐Analytic Review." Journal of Traumatic Stress (March). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/jts.22391

START Author(s): 
Betty Pfefferbaum
Publication URL: 
Visit Website

Additional Info

Research Area: