Terrorism and cardiovascular responses to acute stress in children

Brooks B. Gump, Jacki Reihman, Paul Stewart, Ed Lonky, Tom Darvill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


A number of studies have considered whether background stress affects cardiovascular responses to acute stress tasks. The present study considers the effect of a potent background stressor with a clear onset, namely the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Specifically, the authors investigated differences among 9.5-year-old children tested before (N = 30) and then following (N = 20) the 9/11 attacks. In addition, a majority of these children (N = 37) were retested approximately 1 year later (i.e., before and after 9/11/2002). Children tested directly following 9/11/2001 exhibited significantly greater stroke volume and cardiac output responses to acute stress tasks compared with their responses 1 year later, and this change in reactivity differed significantly from the change in reactivity exhibited by children tested before 9/11/2001 and again 1 year later. These results suggest that a potent background stressor can temporarily heighten some children's cardiovascular responses to subsequent acute stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-600
Number of pages7
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute stress
  • Cardiovascular reactivity
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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