Acute stress symptoms, dissociation, and depression among rescue personnel 24 hours after the bet-yehoshua train crash in Israel: The effects of gender

Yuval Palgi, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Nir Essar, Hilik Sofer, Yeela Haber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: The effect of immediate exposure to traumatic events and gender differences is under-studied in the literature. Most studies focus on acute stress disorder (ASD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) phases in order to measure gender differences, and tend to neglect the immediate expo-sure to the disaster.Hypothesis: The main hypothesis was that female rescue personnel would exhibit higher levels of acute stress symptoms, dissociation, and depressive symptoms in the 24 hours following a traumatic event. Methods: Twenty-three rescue personnel participated in a search and rescue operation at the Bet-Yehoshua train crash in Israel. The rescue personnel group was divided based on gender. Each participant completed a demographic questionnaire including questions that assessed psychological symptoms and issues such as perceived threat to life, the Impact of Event Scale Revised (IES-R), the Dissociative Experience Scale (DES), and the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression questionnaire (CES-D). Statistical inferences were calculated using t-tests and chi-square tests, along with testing of covariance (MANCOVA) in order to indentify which factors are related to psychiatric symptomatology following the immediate exposure to disaster. Results: The results suggest that among rescue personnel, women did not differ in their levels of acute stress, dissociation, and depressive symptoms from men. Conclusions: These results suggest the possibility that the gender differences in reactions to traumatic events do not emerge in the acute stress reactions (ASR) phase (up to 24 hours after the event), but later on when people have time to process the trauma. Another possibility that may explain the discrepancy between this study and the common knowledge in the literature is that women rescue personnel are considered a highly selected group, which does not reflect on the general population of women. More studies are needed in order to substantiate these results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-437
Number of pages5
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • acute stress symptoms
  • domestic disaster
  • gender
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • rescue personnel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency
  • Emergency Medicine


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