Research ArticlePSYCHOLOGY

Media exposure to mass violence events can fuel a cycle of distress

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  17 Apr 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 4, eaav3502
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3502

Abstract

The established link between trauma-related media exposure and distress may be cyclical: Distress can increase subsequent trauma-related media consumption that promotes increased distress to later events. We tested this hypothesis in a 3-year longitudinal study following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings and the 2016 Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre using a national U.S. sample (N = 4165). Data were collected shortly after the bombings, 6 and 24 months post-bombings, and beginning 5 days after the Pulse nightclub massacre (approximately 1 year later; 36 months post-bombings). Bombing-related media exposure predicted posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTS) 6 months later; PTS predicted worry about future negative events 2 years after the bombings, which predicted increased media consumption and acute stress following the Pulse nightclub massacre 1 year later. Trauma-related media exposure perpetuates a cycle of high distress and media use.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text