Post-traumatic stress disorder, bronchodilator response, and incident asthma in World Trade Center rescue and recovery workers

Rafael E. De La Hoz, Yunho Jeon, Gregory E. Miller, Juan P. Wisnivesky, Juan C. Celedón*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Rationale: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been associated with asthma in cross-sectional studies. Whether PTSD leads to clinically significant bronchodilator response (BDR) or new-onset asthma is unknown. Objectives: We sought to determine the relationship between probable PTSD and both BDR and incident asthma in a high-risk cohort of World Trade Center workers in New York (NY). Methods: This study was conducted on data from a high-risk cohort of 11,481 World Trade Center workers in New York, including 6,133 never smokers without a previous diagnosis of asthma. Of the 6,133 never smokers without asthma, 3,757 (61.3%) completed a follow-up visit several years later (mean = 4.95 yr, interquartile range = 3.74-5.90 yr). At the baseline visit, probable PTSD was defined as a score 44 points or greater in the PTSD Checklist questionnaire, and BDRwas defined as both a change of 12% or greater and an increment of 200 ml or greater in FEV1 after bronchodilator administration. Incident asthma was defined as a self-report of new physiciandiagnosed asthma after the baseline visit. Multivariable logistic regression was used for the analysis of probable PTSD and baseline BDR or incident asthma. Measurements and Main and Results: At baseline, probable PTSDwas associated withBDRamong all participants (adjusted odds ratio = 1.43; 95% confidence interval = 1.19-1.72), with similar results among never smokers without asthma. Among 3,757 never smokers, probable PTSD at baseline was associated with incident asthma, even after adjustment for baseline BDR (odds ratio = 2.41; 95% confidence interval = 1.85-3.13). This association remained significant in a confirmatory analysis after excluding 195 subjects with baseline BDR. Conclusions: In a cohort of adult workers exposed to a severe traumatic event, probable PTSD is significantly associated with BDR at baseline and predicts incident asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1383-1391
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Bronchodilator response
  • Incident asthma
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • World Trade Center

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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