Social capital and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder among survivors of the 2007 earthquake in Pisco, Peru

Social Science [?] Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 02/2014; 101:9-17. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.11.012
Source: PubMed


This study aimed to evaluate the association between chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and both structural and cognitive social capital in adult survivors of the 2007 earthquake in Pisco, Peru. Cognitive social capital measures trust, sense of belonging and interpersonal relationships in the community and structural social capital measures group membership, support from community groups and individuals, and involvement in citizenship activities. We conducted a population-based cross-sectional study in five counties in Pisco, selecting 1012 adults through complex, multi-stage random sampling. All participants completed socio-demographic questions and validated Spanish-language versions of the Adapted Social Capital Assessment Tool (SASCAT) and the civilian PTSD checklist (PCL-C). After performing descriptive and bivariate analyses, we carried out prevalence ratio (PR) regression. The overall prevalence of chronic PTSD was 15.9% (95% CI: 12.3, 19.8), much higher than anticipated based on existing evidence. Cognitive social capital was found to be negatively associated with chronic PTSD, while no significant association was found for structural social capital. Specifically, those with high cognitive social capital had an almost two times lower prevalence of chronic PTSD (PR = 1.83, 95% CI: 1.50, 2.22) compared with those with low cognitive social capital. No independent association between structural social capital and chronic PTSD was found (PR = 1.44, 95% CI: 0.70, 2.97). In conclusion, cognitive social capital, but not structural social capital, has a protective influence on the occurrence of chronic PTSD in survivors of natural disasters. These results may have public health implications. For example, pre- and post-disaster community-based interventions that catalyze and foster dimensions of cognitive social capital may aid in ameliorating the effect of earthquakes and other natural disasters on populations with high vulnerability to such events and poor access to mental health and other support services.

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    • "There is now agreement that PTSD represents the most frequent mental disorder occurring after exposure to mass trauma, particularly earthquakes (Maj et al., 1989; Armenian et al., 2002; Lai et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2011; Ehring et al., 2011; Zhang et al., 2011; Carmassi et al., 2014b). PTSD prevalence rates ranging between 10.3% and 49.6% have, in fact, been reported in the general population exposed to such events (Armenian et al., 2000; Bödvarsdottir and Elklit, 2004; Kun et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2009; Cairo et al., 2010; Dell'Osso et al., 2011b; Carmassi et al., 2013), besides the tendency to a chronic and highly debilitating course and an elevated risk of complications such as suicide (Chou et al., 2007; Stratta et al., 2012; Flores et al., 2014; Cénat and Derivois, 2014). Consisting results were reported by some of us regarding Italian survivors to the earthquake (Richter Magnitude 6.3) that struck the town of L'Aquila (Italy) on April 6th 2009, causing 309 victims, more than 1600 wounded and 66,000 displaced (Dell'Osso et al., 2011a, 2011b, 2012a, 2012b; Carmassi et al., 2014a). "
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