Association Between Feeling Threatened, Behaviour and Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression: Two and a Half Years After the Terrorist Attacks in Belgium

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Abstract

Feeling threatened by terrorism can be associated with mental health problems and behavioural changes. However, few studies look at the association in the long-term. Using a survey, the population in Brussels, Belgium was studied using a representative database delivered by the national post service. The Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) assessed mental health, and self-made questions avoidance behaviour. 170 people answered: 60% women and 50% higher educated, 28.2% between 56 and 65 years and 62.4% had a partner. 43.5% felt threatened by the terrorist attacks and 45.9% experienced no mental health problems. Both terrorist threat (p < 0.001) and avoidance behaviour (p < 0.001) significantly predicted PHQ-4 scores, while controlling for gender, age, social support, education level, and traumatic events. There is a relation between terrorist threat and anxiety/depressive symptoms 2.5 years after the last study on terrorist threat in Brussels, but it has weakened. Avoidance behaviour seems to be more present than threat.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2021

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