About 7000 Swedish citizens were on Christmas holiday in the disaster area at the time of the South-east Asian tsunami in 2004, in many cases with children and adolescents in their families.
To investigate how adolescents experience a traumatic exposure to a natural disaster.
Twenty adolescents aged 16-19 years, who had experienced the 2004 tsunami and participated in a follow-up study 19 months post-disaster, were randomly selected and interviewed about their reactions, their life afterwards and their families. The study combines the face-to-face, semi-structured interviews with questionnaire data on mental health for 4910 Swedish adolescents and adults.
The themes that emerged inductively during the analysis of the interviews were psychological reactions during the catastrophe, the coping after, changes in self-image, worldview, role in the family, risk interpretation and altruism. The disaster had profound impact on family relations, social networks and plans for the future. Many felt strengthened by the experience and by their ability to cope in comparison with other family members, but also perceived isolation and lack of understanding. The general mental health status among the adolescents did not differ significantly from those of older age at the 19-month follow-up.
According to the adolescents', they experienced the tsunami-disaster differently than others around them. Their subjective interpretation of the event and its aftermath indicates resilience, especially among the young men. Future follow-up studies in larger samples of both symptoms and psychological functioning are warranted.
In this study, we examined changes in alcohol consumption in the aftermath of a natural disaster, as well as possible predictors of both increased and decreased drinking.
Observational longitudinal study.
Repatriated Norwegian adults who resided in areas affected by the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami completed a questionnaire at 6 and 24 months postdisaster (N = 649).
Weekly alcohol consumption and frequency of intoxication did not change significantly from 6 to 24 months postdisaster at the population level: 18.3% (n = 116) increased their alcohol consumption while 21.1% (n = 125) showed a reduction. Increased drinking was not predicted by severity of disaster exposure, post-traumatic stress, or measures of psychological functioning. Reduced alcohol consumption was predicted by younger age and social withdrawal, but not by any of the other study variables.
Our findings indicate that the tsunami experience had only minor effects on alcohol consumption, in contrast to some studies suggesting a relationship between trauma exposure and increased alcohol consumption.
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
Negative life events in childhood have an adverse influence on adult psychological health, and increase vulnerability to subsequent potential traumas. It remains unclear whether this is also true in the case of disasters.
This study investigates whether the experience of negative life events in childhood and adolescence was associated with psychological symptoms in groups of Swedish survivors with different types of exposure to the tsunami.
1505 survivors from Stockholm responded to a questionnaire on psychological distress, which was sent by post 14 months after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Psychological distress was measured by General Health Questionnaire-12 and suicidal ideation, and post-traumatic stress was measured by Impact of Event Scale-Revised. Life events prior to age 16 were collected and categorized under the indices accident, violence, loss and interpersonal events. Exposure to the tsunami was categorized in different types, and controlled for in the analyses.
With the adjustment for confounders, significant odds ratios were found for all indices on at least one outcome measure, despite the powerful effect of the tsunami. We could not discern any distinct difference in the distribution of the tendency to report the different outcomes depending on types of prior life events.
The implication of the study is that, for adult survivors of disaster, the reporting of adverse life events from childhood may influence future decisions regarding therapy.
Despite the growth in knowledge about the effects of a warming Arctic on its cold-adapted species, the mechanisms by which these changes affect animal populations remain poorly understood. Increasing temperatures, declining sea ice and altered wind and precipitation patterns all may affect the fitness and abundance of species through multiple direct and indirect pathways. Here we demonstrate previously unknown effects of rain-on-snow (ROS) events, winter precipitation, and ice tidal surges on the Arctic's largest land mammal. Using novel field data across seven years and three Alaskan and Russian sites, we show arrested skeletal growth in juvenile muskoxen resulting from unusually dry winter conditions and gestational ROS events, with the inhibitory effects on growth from ROS events lasting up to three years post-partum. Further, we describe the simultaneous entombment of 52 muskoxen in ice during a Chukchi Sea winter tsunami (ivuniq in Iñupiat), and link rapid freezing to entrapment of Arctic whales and otters. Our results illustrate how once unusual, but increasingly frequent Arctic weather events affect some cold-adapted mammals, and suggest that an understanding of species responses to a changing Arctic can be enhanced by coalescing groundwork, rare events, and insights from local people.
Fourteen months after the 2004 tsunami, mental health outcome was assessed in 187 bereaved relatives, 308 bereaved friends, and in 3,020 nonbereaved Swedish survivors. Of the bereaved relatives, 41% reported posttraumatic stress reactions and 62% reported impaired general mental health. Having been caught or chased by the tsunami in combination with bereavement was associated with increased posttraumatic stress reactions. Complicated grief reactions among relatives were almost as frequent as posttraumatic stress reactions. The highest levels of psychological distress were found among those who had lost children. Traumatic bereavement, in combination with exposure to life danger, is probably a risk factor for mental health sequelae after a natural disaster.
Following the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, Swedish authorities received public criticism for slow implementation of rescue work. Meanwhile, data are scarce on survivors' perspectives and potential mental health symptoms associated with timing of evacuation. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate survivors' contentment with evacuation time and whether duration at disaster site following the 2004 tsunami was associated with post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and psychological morbidity.
Of 10,116 Swedish tsunami survivors who returned to Sweden in the first 3 weeks post tsunami, 4910 (49%) answered a questionnaire 14 months later including questions on evacuation time, contentment with evacuation time and PTSS (Impact of Event Scale). We used logistic regression to calculate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) of PTSS by timing of evacuation adjusting for gender, age, education, various indicators of trauma exposure and pre-tsunami psychiatric diagnoses.
More than half of the survivors (53%) were content with evacuation time while 33% wanted later evacuation and 13% earlier evacuation. Compared with those evacuated 14-21 days post tsunami, individuals evacuated at day 1-4 presented with increased odds of PTSS (crude OR 3.0, 95% CI 2.0-4.5; and multivariable adjusted OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3-3.0) and impaired mental health (crude OR 1.7, 95% CI 1.2-2.4; and multivariable adjusted OR 1.4 95% CI 1.0-2.0).
One-third of Swedish tsunami survivors preferred a later evacuation from disaster sites. These findings call for further studies, with prospective designs, to disentangle the causal direction of the association between evacuation time and PTSS.
There is limited research on the relevance of family structures to the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress following disasters. We longitudinally studied the effects of marital and parental statuses on posttraumatic stress reactions after the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami and whether persons in the same households had more shared stress reactions than others.
The study included a tourist population of 641 Norwegian adult citizens, many of them from families with children. We measured posttraumatic stress symptoms with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised at 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. Analyses included multilevel methods with mixed effects models.
Results showed that neither marital nor parental status was significantly related to posttraumatic stress. At both assessments, adults living in the same household reported levels of posttraumatic stress that were more similar to one another than adults who were not living together. Between households, disaster experiences were closely related to the variance in posttraumatic stress symptom levels at both assessments. Within households, however, disaster experiences were less related to the variance in symptom level at 2 years than at 6 months.
These results indicate that adult household members may influence one another's posttraumatic stress reactions as well as their interpretations of the disaster experiences over time. Our findings suggest that multilevel methods may provide important information about family processes after disasters.
Self-efficacy may be an important factor in individuals' recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions after a natural disaster. However, few longitudinal studies have investigated whether self-efficacy predicts the course of posttraumatic recovery beyond lower initial levels of distress. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether general self-efficacy is related to recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions from a longitudinal perspective.
A total of 617 Norwegians exposed to the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami completed self-report questionnaires measuring their level of disaster exposure and general self-efficacy at 6 months and posttraumatic stress reactions 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. Predictors of changes in posttraumatic stress reactions were analyzed with multivariate mixed effects models.
Self-efficacy at 6 months post-disaster was unrelated to trauma exposure and inversely related to posttraumatic stress reactions at 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. However, self-efficacy was not related to recovery from posttraumatic stress reactions between 6 months and 2 years post-disaster.
In conclusion, general self-efficacy is related to lower levels of posttraumatic stress reactions in the first months after a disaster but does not appear to be related to improved recovery rates over the longer term.
We examined nonparticipation in a 2-year postdisaster mail survey of Norwegian tourists evacuated from countries affected by the 2004 tsunami. One hundred seventy-one persons out of a random sample of 330 nonparticipants were telephone interviewed concerning disaster exposure, current posttraumatic stress reactions, and reasons for not participating. Fewer nonparticipants than participants had been in a place directly affected by the tsunami. Nonparticipants reported less perceived threat of death and lower levels of posttraumatic stress reactions. Reasons for not participating were "lack of interest or time" (39.2%), "lack of relevant experiences" (32.2%), and "too personal or emotionally disturbing" (15.2%). Our findings suggest that postdisaster studies may be biased in the direction of more severe disaster exposure and pronounced posttraumatic stress reactions.