Naturalistic Study of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Among Israeli Civilians Exposed to Wartime Attacks

Eytan Ellenberg, Avi Yakir, Zvia Bar-On, Yehuda Sasson, Mark Taragin, Danielle Luft-Afik, Osnat Cohen, Osnat Lavenda, Michal Mahat-Shamir, Yaira Hamama-Raz, Menahem Ben Ezra, B. Christopher Frueh, Ishay Ostfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Civilians who survive wartime attacks commonly experience substantial psychological distress, including acute stress reactions (ASRs) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The authors sought to determine the level of Israeli civilian exposure to wartime attacks, prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and physical injuries, and associated medical costs over a 7-year period. METHODS: Data from the National Insurance Institute of Israel on civilian survivors of wartime attacks in the 2009-2015 period were retrospectively examined. RESULTS: Overall, 11,476 civilians were affected by 243 wartime attacks during the study period. Of these individuals, 7,561 (65.9%) received early intervention (EI) psychological treatment for ASRs, 1,332 (11.6%) were subsequently adjudicated as having a disability (all causes), and 519 (4.5%) were adjudicated as disabled by PTSD through the end of 2016. Individuals who received immediate ASR treatment were less likely to be disabled by PTSD (p=0.001). Among those without physical injuries, the EI was associated with decreased PTSD disability (2.6% of those receiving the EI developed PTSD, whereas 7.2% of those who did not receive the EI developed PTSD); however, for those with physical injuries, the PTSD rate was higher among those who received the EI (30.4%) than among those who did not receive the EI (5.2%). Individuals having a disability other than PTSD incurred higher medical costs ($7,153 in 2016 U.S. dollars) than individuals with PTSD ($1,960). CONCLUSIONS: An approach of providing case management, medical care, behavioral health screening, and EI for ASRs in the wake of wartime attacks on civilians minimized long-term PTSD-related disability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1030
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021


  • Aggression
  • Israel
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress
  • Terrorism
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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