Children's state anxiety in reaction to disaster media cues: A preliminary test of a multivariate model

Claudio D. Ortiz, Wendy K. Silverman, James Jaccard, Annette M. La Greca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study examined a multivariate conceptual model regarding the relations among life events, depressive symptoms, anxiety symptoms, social support, and negative coping, and how these relations influence children's state anxiety in reaction to disaster media cues. Participants were 248 Hispanic/Latino elementary school students (Grades 2-5) from a hurricane prone region. To first examine whether children would show elevated state anxiety in response to disaster media cues, 185 (75) of the 248 children were shown disaster media cues. These children's state anxiety was compared with the state anxiety of a comparison group: 63 children (25) of the 248 children, who were shown a neutral weather film. The data from the 185 children shown the disaster media were used to evaluate the study's conceptual model. State anxiety was statistically significantly higher in the children shown the disaster media cues than the children shown the neutral weather film. Structural equation modeling results indicated that children's perceived available social support and use of coping strategies predicted state anxiety following exposure to the media cues of disaster. Life events and preexisting depression symptoms did not significantly predict social support and coping; child anxiety symptoms significantly predicted perceived social support. The study represents an initial step toward establishing and empirically evaluating a multivariate model of children's reactions to disaster cues. The study's findings are discussed in the context of developing preventive interventions for children at-risk for exposure to disasters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages8
JournalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2011


  • anxiety
  • children
  • disaster
  • media
  • reactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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