Emotional, behavioral, and physiological effects of chronic stress at Three Mile Island

Andrew Baum, Robert J. Gatchel, Marc A. Schaeffer

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145 Scopus citations


38 Three Mile Island (TMI) residents (mean age 33.3 yrs) were compared with 32 people (mean age 35.8 yrs) living near an undamaged nuclear power plant, 24 people (mean age 34.1 yrs) living near a traditional coal-fired power plant, and 27 people (mean age 30.9 yrs) living in an area more than 20 miles from any power plant. A number of self-report measures of psychological stress were evaluated by administering the Symptom Checklist-90 and the Beck Depression Inventory more than 1 yr after the nuclear accident. Two behavioral measures of stress were obtained: performances on a proofreading task and an embedded-figures task. Urinary catecholamine levels were assayed to examine chronic stress-related sympathetic arousal. Results indicate that Ss in the TMI area exhibited more symptoms of stress more than 1 yr after the nuclear accident than did Ss living under different circumstances. Although the intensity of these problems appears to be subclinical, the persistence of stress may be cause for some concern. (25 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-572
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Aug 1983


  • behavioral &
  • emotional &
  • physiological measures of stress, Three Mile Island residents


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