Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

”Have you experienced any unmet needs after the terrorist attack at Utøya?” The parents describe

Glad, K. A., Jensen, T. K., & Dyb, G. (2014). "Er det hjelp du har savnet etter terroranslaget på Utøya?" : foreldrene forteller [”Have you experienced any unmet needs after the terrorist attack at Utøya?” The parents describe] Norwegian only. Tidsskrift for Norsk Psykologforening, 51(7), 537-545.

After the terrorist attack in Norway, July 22nd 2011, a national, proactive outreach strategy was developed and implemented to help the directly affected.

The aim of this study was to find out what the parents of the youths who survived at Utøya Island, who felt that their families’ needs had not been adequately addressed, experienced of unmet needs.

About 14-15 months after the attack, 429 parents (M age 50, SD = 6.2, 59.4 % females), representing 60 % of those who survived, were asked if their family had experienced unmet needs, and if so, to write a short description of these needs.

More than 40 % of the participants reported that neither they nor anyone in their family had unmet needs, while almost 60 % had some unmet needs, of whom 14 % reported unmet needs for everyone in the family. The most salient theme was a wish for a more active and enduring follow-up, especially for siblings and the family as a whole.

Many parents did not report unmet needs for their family, which suggests that the outreach strategy worked well for many of those who participated in the study. The responses from the parents who did have unmet needs can nevertheless help inform and improve the services provided post-trauma. The results suggest that when one family member is directly affected by a traumatic event, it affects the whole family. It is thus important that the entire family, including the siblings, is screened for mental health problems and that adequate help is provided accordingly.

The Researchers