Researchers at Stony Brook University Awarded a $1.5 Million Contract to 
Study Health Problems among 9/11 Responders

wtcA team of researchers from Stony Brook University, including Distinguished Professor Evelyn Bromet, PhD; Assistant Professor Roman Kotov, PhD; and Professor Benjamin Luft, MD, has been awarded a three-year $1.5 million contract by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to study relationships between mental and physical health problems among responders to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (WTC).

The team will use a multi-disciplinary approach, combining epidemiology, psychology and medicine, to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the relationships between psychiatric and medical disorders experienced by WTC responders; to evaluate the impact of these disorders on quality of life, functioning and perceptions of health risk; and to compare the model of care at Stony Brook that integrates treatment of mental and physical disorders to the traditional model of care followed at the other WTC clinics.

The team will analyze clinical data from 16,000 responders seen by the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program and will also conduct telephone interviews with a representative sample of 5,000 of them. They will investigate four disorders known to be common in WTC responders—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), lower respiratory disease, asthma, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—with an eye toward understanding how they interact. About a third of responders seen in the program had lower respiratory symptoms at the time of their first visit and up to 20% had symptoms consistent with PTSD.

The telephone interviews will add crucially needed new information about the effects of these disorders on the lives of people who were traumatized by the disaster.  A comparison between the medical and psychiatric outcomes and quality of life of patients treated in the Stony Brook University program, which provides integrated physical and mental health care, and the outcomes of those seen in the other traditional WTC programs will provide valuable clues to the best treatment of these co-occurring disorders. 

Drs. Bromet and Kotov are members of the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science. Dr. Luft is Edmund D. Pellegrino Professor of Medicine and Medical Director of the WTC Medical Monitoring and Treatment Program at Stony Brook University.