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: 2.32). 02/2006; 6(6):230. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-6-230
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT 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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    • "), predisaster mental health problems (Basoglu et al., 2004; Kohn et al., 2005b; Lewin et al., 1998; North et al., 1999, 2005; Tural et al., 2004), feelings of guilt (Alexander and Wells, 1991; Kuo et al., 2007), life events postdisaster (Carr et al., 1997; Hull et al., 2002; Lewin et al., 1998), female gender (DeSalvo et al., 2007; Favaro et al., 2004; Kohn et al., 2005b; Kuo et al., 2003, 2007; Lai et al., 2004; Maes et al., 2001; McFarlane et al., 1997; Montazeri et al., 2005; North et al., 1999, 2005; Tural et al., 2004), old age (Favaro et al., 2004; Toyabe et al., 2006; Varela et al., 2008; Yang et al., 2003), physical injury (Altindag et al., 2005; Hull et al., 2002; Kuo et al., 2007), lack of social support (Altindag et al., 2005; Armenian et al, 2002; Carr et al., 1997; Favaro et al., 2004; Feng et al., 2007; Wang et al., 2000), exposure to gruesome things (Armenian et al., 1998; Basoglu et al., 2004; Carlier et al., 1997; Carr et al., 1997; Dirkzwager et al., 2006; Escobar et al., 1992; Hull et al., 2002; Kohn et al., 2005b; Lai et al., 2004; Lazaratou et al., 2008; Lewin et al., 1998; Polusny et al., 2008), low level of government support or dissatisfaction with postdisaster aid and/or insurance (Dirkzwager et al., 2006; Wang et al., 2000). "
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