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Study Protocol ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00744

Impact of a Terrorist Attack on the Mental Health of Directly Exposed French Adolescents: Study Protocol for the First Step of the AVAL (Adolescents Victimes de l’Attentat de Londres) Cohort Study

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire (CHU) de Brest, France
  • 2INSERM CIC1412 CIC BREST, France
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, Hôpital d’instruction des Armées Clermont-Tonnerre, France
  • 4Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, EPS Erasme, France

Background: Several terrorist attacks have recently taken place in France and Europe. Various studies have shown a high prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric disorders among the victims of these attacks. Nevertheless, research in this field is scarce and no cohort study has been conducted yet to evaluate the impact of a terrorist attack on teenagers directly exposed to this type of events. Therefore, we decided to work on the AVAL cohort study, in order to measure the psycho-traumatic impact of this attack and to describe these adolescents’ health care pathways.
Material and method: The 53 students of a French high school who were directly exposed (criterion A1 of PTSD in DSM-5) to the terrorist attack perpetrated in London on March 22, 2017 constitute the target population of this monocentric cross-sectional observational study. We decided not to include the three students who were physically wounded and, therefore, didn’t have the same sensorial exposition. The primary endpoint will be the prevalence of PTSD 12 to 15 months after the attack, measured by the PCL-5 (Post-traumatic stress disorder Check-List for DSM-5) global severity score: the diagnosis of PTSD will be retained when the score is > 32. We will also use an extensive battery of clinical tests to assess the prevalence of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, sleep disorders, addictions, suicide risk and alterations in social, family and school functioning 12 to 15 months after the attack. We will also describe these adolescents’ health care pathways since the attack and collect data from the clinical evaluation performed during the initial intervention of the medico-psychological emergency cell, within 10 days after the attack.
Discussion: The findings of this study are intended to provide epidemiological data about the psycho-traumatic impact of a terrorist attack on the mental health of directly exposed adolescents and to describe these adolescents’ health care pathways, thus contributing to improve the immediate, post-immediate and delayed response strategies after a major psycho-traumatic event involving adolescents (and in particular after terrorist attacks), as well as the identification and psychiatric care of the young survivors requiring specialized care.

Keywords: Terrorism, Teenagers, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Adolescent Psychiatry, crisis intervention [MeSH], PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)

Received: 24 May 2019; Accepted: 17 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Grenon, Consigny, Lemey, Simson and Coulon. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Miss. Marion Grenon, Centre Hospitalier Regional Universitaire (CHU) de Brest, Department of Psychiatry, Brest, France,