Impaired psychological recovery in the elderly after the Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake in Japan: A population-based study

Department of Medical Informatics, Niigata University Medical and Dental Hospital, Asahimachi-Dori 1, Niigata 951-8520, Japan.
BMC Public Health (Impact Factor: 2.26). 02/2006; 6(6):230. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-6-230
Source: PubMed


An earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale struck the Niigata-Chuetsu region of Japan at 5.56 P.M. on the 23rd of October, 2004. The earthquake was followed by sustained occurrence of numerous aftershocks, which delayed reconstruction of community lifelines. Even one year after the earthquake, 9,160 people were living in temporary housing. Such a devastating earthquake and life after the earthquake in an unfamiliar environment should cause psychological distress, especially among the elderly.
Psychological distress was measured using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) in 2,083 subjects (69% response rate) who were living in transient housing five months after the earthquake. GHQ-12 was scored using the original method, Likert scoring and corrected method. The subjects were asked to assess their psychological status before the earthquake, their psychological status at the most stressful time after the earthquake and their psychological status at five months after the earthquake. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis was used to reveal the factor structure of GHQ12. Multiple regression analysis was performed to analyze the relationship between various background factors and GHQ-12 score and its subscale.
GHQ-12 scores were significantly elevated at the most stressful time and they were significantly high even at five months after the earthquake. Factor analysis revealed that a model consisting of two factors (social dysfunction and dysphoria) using corrected GHQ scoring showed a high level of goodness-of-fit. Multiple regression analysis revealed that age of subjects affected GHQ-12 scores. GHQ-12 score as well as its factor 'social dysfunction' scale were increased with increasing age of subjects at five months after the earthquake.
Impaired psychological recovery was observed even at five months after the Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake in the elderly. The elderly were more affected by matters relating to coping with daily problems.

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    • "Many factors have been identified that seem to impact the mental health of populations affected by natural disasters, which contribute to the onset and severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): female gender (Carr et al. 1995; Karanci and Rustemli 1995; Sharan et al. 1996; C. C. Chen et al. 2001; Basoglu et al. 2002; Livanou et al. 2002; Salcioglu et al. 2003; Kiliç and Ulusoy 2003; Chang et al. 2005; Montazeri et al. 2005; Sattler et al. 2006; Hansson et al. 1994; C. H. Chen et al. 2007; Kuwabara et al. 2008; Priebe et al. 2009; Steel et al. 2011; Ahmad et al. 2010; Dell'Osso et al. 2011b; Zhang and Ho 2011), older (Carr et al. 1997; Salcioglu et al. 2003; Toyabe et al. 2006; C. H. Chen et al. 2007; Priebe et al. 2009; Zhang and Ho 2011) or younger age at trauma (Kato et al. 1996), lower education (Karanci and Rustemli 1995; Armenian et al. 2000; Basoglu et al. 2002; Kiliç and Ulusoy 2003; Montazeri et al. 2005; C. H. Chen et al. 2007; Priebe et al. 2009; Wang et al. 2009; Ahmad et al. 2010), epigenetic vulnerability (Broekman et al. 2007; Mehta and Binder 2012), previous psychiatric illness (Nolen-Hoeksema and Morrow 1991; Basoglu et al. 2002; Salcioglu et al. 2003), fear of death at the time of the disaster (Basoglu et al. 2002; Livanou et al. 2002; Bergiannaki et al. 2003; Salcioglu et al. 2003; Kiliç and Ulusoy 2003; Basoglu et al. 2004; Kuwabara et al. 2008), degree of exposure to the disaster (Goenjian et al. 1994; Carr et al. 1995; Armenian et al. 2000; Sattler et al. 2006; Wang et al. 2009; Zhang and Ho 2011), closer proximity to the epicenter of an earthquake (Ahmad et al. 2010), loss of loved ones (Basoglu et al. 2002; Livanou et al. 2002; Montazeri et al. 2005; Goenjian et al. 1994; Dell'Osso et al. 2011a), property or resource loss (Freedy et al. 1994; Armenian et al. 2000; C. C. Chen et al. 2001; Bland et al. 2005; Sattler et al. 2006; C. H. Chen et al. 2007; Kuwabara et al. 2008; Sharan et al. 1996), having been trapped/injured under rubble and/or participation in rescue work (Basoglu et al. 2002; Salcioglu et al. 2003; Kuwabara et al. 2008; Ehring et al. 2011), greater number of traumatic experiences (Chang et al. 2005), relocation after a disaster (Najarian et al. 2001; Kiliç et al. 2006), less social support (Bland et al. 1997; Armenian et al. 2000; Sattler et al. 2006; Bland et al. 2005; Wang et al. 2009), and diminished individual coping (Olff et al. 2005). Within one month after exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor, a mental disorder, such as acute stress disorder (ASD) can manifest. "
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    SpringerPlus 11/2013; 2(1):636. DOI:10.1186/2193-1801-2-636
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    • "Older children and adolescents, like most adults, can remember and communicate the incidences long after the disaster. The recovery might delay and take several months in elderly victims.[1617] On the contrary, stress-related symptoms are transient in younger children.[18] "
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    08/2013; 4(Suppl 1):S19-23. DOI:10.4103/0976-3147.116434
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    • "For all this, particular groups are likely to remain vulnerable, with earthquakes liable to trigger multiple negative life events [6], and with delayed dysfunction often a consequence of natural disasters [45]. To deal with this, a number of studies have suggested post-event interventions that utilise both family and existing community resources to reduce distress [28], [45], [46]. At the same time, while strong levels of social support following natural disasters in Japan have been related to positive health outcomes [47], our findings also suggest that sharing risk respresentations amongst close others can encourage worry and fear. "
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    PLoS ONE 05/2012; 7(5):e37690. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0037690 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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