To study changes in religious beliefs and predictors of such changes in a community sample exposed to a natural disaster, and to investigate whether religiosity was linked to post-disaster mental distress or life satisfaction.
An adult population of 1,180 Norwegian tourists who experienced the 2004 tsunami was surveyed by a postal questionnaire 2 years after the disaster. Data included religiosity, disaster exposure, general psychopathology, posttraumatic stress and life satisfaction.
Among the respondents, 8% reported strengthening and 5% reported weakening of their religious beliefs. Strengthening was associated with pre-tsunami mental health problems (OR: 1.82, 95% CI: 1.12-2.95) and posttraumatic stress (OR: 1.62, 95% CI: 1.22-2.16). Weakening was associated with younger age (OR: 0.98, 95% CI: 0.96-1.00) and posttraumatic stress (OR: 1.72, 95% CI: 1.23-2.41). Two years after the tsunami, 11% of the sample considered themselves to be positively religious. There were no significant differences in posttraumatic stress, general psychopathology or life satisfaction between religious and non-religious groups.
Religion did not play an important role in the lives of Norwegian tsunami survivors in general. Respondents who had the greatest disaster exposure were more likely to report changes in religious beliefs in both directions. Religious beliefs did not prevent post-disaster long-term mental distress, and religiosity was not related to higher levels of life satisfaction.
Cites: Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2000 Jan 30;120(3):346-810827526
Bereavement following disasters is a devastating experience for family members. The aim of this study was to examine the long-term mental health effects of losing a loved one in a natural disaster.
Ninety-four Norwegians aged 18-80 years who lost close family members in the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami were evaluated 2 and 6 years after the disaster. The participants were either staying in an affected area at the time of the disaster (i.e., directly exposed) or not (i.e., not directly exposed). The prevalence of psychiatric disorders was assessed by the MINI International Neuropsychiatric Interview (M.I.N.I). Prolonged grief disorder (PGD) was self-reported using the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), and functional impairment was self-reported using the Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS).
We did not identify a significant decrease in the prevalence of PGD, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or major depressive disorder (MDD) from 2 to 6 years. Approximately, one-third of the bereaved (36%) had a psychiatric disorder 6 years after the tsunami. The most common disorder was PGD (12%) followed by general anxiety disorder (GAD, 11%), agoraphobia (11%), and MDD (10%). The prevalence of PTSD and MDD was higher among family members who were directly exposed to the disaster compared to those who were not (21 vs. 0%, and 25 vs. 3%). PGD was associated with functional impairment independent of other disorders.
Loss of a close family member in a natural disaster can have a substantial adverse long-term effect on mental health and everyday functioning.
This paper describes the establishment and activities of the Information and Support Centres developed in Norway in the aftermath of large-scale accidents and disasters between 1980 and 1990. The function of these Centres is to provide rapid, authoritative information and psychosocial support services for the next-of-kin of disaster victims, including the families of those missing. By gathering together those affected by a particular event, the Centres provide a setting in which individuals and families can support each other. The activities of the psychosocial team include triage for mental-health emergencies, orienting survivors to immediately available local services, communication with family, friends, and community, and other forms of psychological first aid. The psychosocial team also provides linkages to local health, clergy, and other local resources that are near to the family's home and could provide continued care if necessary.
BACKGROUND: Few studies have explored the long-term mental health consequences of disaster losses in bereaved, either exposed to the disaster themselves or not. This study examined the prevalence and predictors of mental disorders and psychological distress in bereaved individuals either directly or not directly exposed to the 2004 tsunami disaster. METHOD: A cross-sectional study of 111 bereaved Norwegians (32 directly and 79 not directly exposed) was conducted 2 years postdisaster. We used a face-to-face structured clinical interview to diagnose current posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression (major depressive disorder, MDD) and a self-report scale to measure prolonged grief disorder (PGD). RESULTS: The prevalence of psychiatric disorders was twice as high among individuals directly exposed to the disaster compared to individuals who were not directly exposed (46.9 vs. 22.8 per 100). The prevalence of disorders among the directly exposed was PTSD (34.4%), MDD (25%), and PGD (23.3%), whereas the prevalence among the not directly exposed was PGD (14.3%), MDD (10.1%), and PTSD (5.2%). The co-occurrence of disorders was higher among the directly exposed (21.9 vs. 5.2%). Low education and loss of a child predicted PGD, whereas direct exposure to the disaster predicted PTSD. All three disorders were independently associated with functional impairment. CONCLUSIONS: The dual burden of direct trauma and loss can inflict a complex set of long-term reactions and mental health problems in bereaved individuals. The relationship between PGD and impaired functioning actualizes the incorporation of PGD in future diagnostic manuals of psychiatric disorders.
This paper discusses how psychological stress disturbs decision making during technological crisis and disaster, and how to prevent this from happening. This is exemplified by scientific studies of a Norwegian large scale accident involving hazardous material, and of handling the far-off effects of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl. The former constitutes an operative level of crisis management, whereas the latter involves crisis management at the strategic and political level. We conclude that stress had a negative effect on decision making in both cases.