In this study, we describe how positive and negative experiences with media relate to posttraumatic stress (PTS) reactions among survivors of the 2011 Utøya Island terrorist attack in Norway. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 285 survivors (47.0% female and 53.0% male) 14–15 months after the terrorist attack. Most survivors were approached by reporters (94%), and participated in media interviews (88%). The majority of survivors evaluated their media contact and participation as positive, and media participation was unrelated to PTS reactions. Survivors who found media participation distressing had more PTS reactions (quite distressing: B = 0.440, extremely distressing: B = 0.611, p = .004 in adjusted model). Perceiving media participation as distressing was slightly associated with lower levels of social support (r = –.16, p = .013), and regretting media participation was slightly associated with feeling let down (r = .18, p = .004). Reporters should take care when interviewing victims, and clinicians should be aware of media exposure as a potential additional strain on victims.
Terrorism and disasters receive massive media attention, and victims are often approached by reporters. Not much is known about how terror and disaster victims perceive the contact with media and whether such experiences influence mental Health.
This publication is a result of The terror attack: How are the terrorist attacks affecting us? A study of the Norwegian population after the 22nd of July attacks, The terror attack: Experience and reactions among Utøya survivors The project manager for this project is Dr. Grete Dyb (PI) and Dr. Synne Stensland is the co- Principle Investigator (PI).