DEBRIEFING FOLLOWING TRAUMA
Carol S. Fullerton, Ph.D., Robert J. Ursano, M.D.,
Kelley Vance, M.P.H., and Lemming Wang, M.S.
In this paper we address three areas. First we review the literature on clinical
intervention using debrieﬁng, second we examine who attends debrieﬁngs by
looking at a study of the 1989 plane crash at Ramstein, Germany and lastly we
examine the effect of natural debrieﬁng, i.e., talking to family and friends on
psychiatric outcome in disaster workers by looking at a study of the Sioux City,
Iowa United plane crash, 1989. Our data suggest that those with high exposure
and females were more likely to attend a debrieﬁng. People most likely to talk
about the disaster with spouse/signiﬁcant other, coworker and/or another per-
son were: those with acute PTSD, higher total and intrusive Impact of Event
symptoms, older, married, those with higher levels of education and higher lev-
els of disaster exposure. Better understanding of who attends formal debrieﬁngs
will help identify potential high-risk groups. Similarly, whether talking about
the disaster is associated with fewer or greater psychological symptoms is impor-
tant to understanding the outcome, mechanisms, and risks of debrieﬁng.
Psychiatric interventions following trauma or disaster are based
on the principles of preventive medicine and include organiza-
tional and community consultation and outreach programs with
The authors are afﬁliated with the Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Ser-
vices University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward He
bert School of Medicine,
Address correspondence to Carol S. Fullerton, Ph.D., Department of Psychia-
try, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F. Edward He
School of Medicine, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814-4799.
PSYCHIATRIC QUARTERLY, Vol. 71, No. 3, Fall 2000
0033-2720/00/0900-0259$18.00/0 2000 Human Sciences Press, Inc.