Physical and Mental Health Consequences of Katrina on Vietnamese Immigrants in New Orleans: A Pre- and Post-Disaster Assessment

Population Services International, Washington, DC, USA.
Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (Impact Factor: 1.16). 07/2011; 14(3):386-94. DOI: 10.1007/s10903-011-9504-3
Source: PubMed


We assessed the health impacts of a natural disaster upon a major immigrant community by comparing pre- and post-event measures for identical individuals. We collected standard health measures for a population-based sample of working-age Vietnamese-Americans living in New Orleans in 2005, just weeks before Katrina occurred. Near the first- and second-year anniversaries of the event, we located and re-assessed more than two-thirds of this original pre-Katrina cohort. We found statistically significant declines in health status for seven of the eight standard SF-36 subscales and for both the physical and mental health component summaries at the first anniversary of the disaster. By the second anniversary, recovery of the health dimensions assessed by these measures was substantial and significant. Most of the SF-36 mental and physical health subscales returned to their original pre-Katrina levels. Being in middle-age, being engaged in professional or self-employed occupations, being unmarried, being less acculturated, and having extensive post-Katrina property damage have statistically significant negative effects on post-Katrina health status, and several of these factors continued to impede recovery by the second anniversary. Hurricane Katrina had significant negative impacts on the mental and physical health of Vietnamese New Orleanians. Several factors present clear opportunities for targeted interventions.

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    • "Several studies among disaster victims have documented varied mental health problems. In one of such studies, Vu and VanLandingham (2011) found statistically significant declines in the physical and mental health status of victims (Vietnamese Immigrants in New Orleans) of the Hurricane Katrina in a pre-and post-disaster assessment. Similarly, Du et al. (2009) found that the health impacts of flood disasters are wide ranging with the immediate health impact including people getting drowned, several forms of injuries and animal bites. "
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