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ISSN: 1522-4821

International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience
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Research Article

Volunteerism and Well-Being in the Context of the World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks

Richard E. Adams, Ph.D1 and Joseph A. Boscarino, Ph.D., MPH2,3,4*

1Department of Sociology, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

2Center for Health Research, Geisinger Clinic, Danville, PA, USA

3Department of Psychiatry, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA

4Departments of Medicine & Pediatrics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, USA

*Corresponding Author:
Joseph A. Boscarino
E-mail: [email protected]


Using a community sample of New York City residents (N=1681) interviewed 1 and 2 years after the World Trade Center Disaster (WTCD), we estimated several logistic regression equations to assess predictors of volunteerism and the relationship between volunteerism and later well-being. Multivariate results show that those with more education, higher exposure to WTCD events, many life-time traumatic events, and pre-WTCD mental health problems were more likely to report volunteerism post-WTCD. African Americans and Latinos were less likely to volunteer, compared to Whites. Respondents scoring high on the Srole Anomie scale and reporting physical disabilities were also less likely to report volunteering in the aftermath of the WTCD. Multivariate results with volunteerism as an independent variable suggest that people who engaged in this activity were less likely to have poor well-being as measured by the SF-12 physical and mental health scales. We discuss these results as they relate to identity theory, the stress process model, and resilience and how community disaster researchers need to pay closer attention to how people interpret and give meaning to traumatic events.


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