Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tropical depression: Hurricane linked to long-term mental distress

10.05.2006


Florida State University sociologists in Tallahassee, Fla. have found that some South Floridians who survived 1992’s Hurricane Andrew suffered mental health problems many years later, a finding that has led the researchers to predict even more dire consequences for those who lived through last year’s devastating Hurricane Katrina.



The researchers, sociology doctoral student and lead author David Russell and professors John Taylor and Donald Lloyd, presented their findings at the 2006 annual meeting of the Southern Sociological Society held recently in New Orleans. Although the short-term mental health consequences of Hurricane Andrew have been documented, this study of adolescents is the first to show that it had long-term effects on mental health.

"We found that people who experienced prior stressful events and who had pre-existing symptoms of psychological distress were more adversely affected by exposure to hurricane-related stressful events," Russell said.


"Based on our findings, we believe intervention efforts should include assessments of the prior experiences and psychological well-being of disaster victims. Doing so will aid response workers in identifying those most at risk for developing post-disaster psychological problems."

The findings suggest that the mental health consequences of Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, 2005, will be even greater. Although the storms were similar in strength, the human and economic costs associated with Katrina far exceeded those of Andrew. Deaths associated with Katrina were more than 50 times greater than those attributed to Andrew, and economic analysts predict that the total economic cost of Katrina will surpass $200 billion, which is more than five times the cost of Andrew.

"We believe that victims of Hurricane Katrina will be at an increased risk for mental health problems for many years to come," Russell said. "The extent of damage was widespread and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their homes and families. Those aspects of the storm mean that many people were exposed to some degree of adversity, and that puts them at greater risk for mental health problems both immediately and over a long period of time."

Delays in rescuing people who were stranded by the flooding in New Orleans compounded the anguish of the Katrina survivors, the researchers noted.

"The slow response by governmental agencies to rescue the victims produced feelings of hopelessness, isolation and anger," Russell said. "In the meantime, exposure to human carnage has placed victims and recovery workers at great risk for a wide array of psychological problems."

Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, hit South Florida on Aug. 24, 1992. The hurricane caused 25 deaths in Miami-Dade County alone. At the time, the damage inflicted by Andrew was unprecedented in U.S. history with total economic losses estimated at $35 billion. More than 250,000 people were left homeless, and the community’s recovery from the storm took years.

The researchers studied data from 975 Miami-Dade County adolescents who lived through Hurricane Andrew to assess psychological distress before, during and five to seven years after the storm. They measured disruption by counting the occurrence of five events: damage to one’s home; being away from home for longer than a week; injury to a family member; having one or both parents lose a job; and having to stay in a shelter.

Not only did Andrew cause emotional distress immediately following the hurricane, the researchers found that it indirectly affected mental health years later. The storm of emotion following the hurricane increased risk for certain stressful life events, such as failing a grade in school, being sent away from home or having to live away from parents.

Russell said the findings likely underestimated the true psychological impact of Hurricane Andrew because those most adversely affected by the hurricane may have relocated from the Miami-Dade area, and thus would have been left out of the follow-up surveys. In addition, the study measured some but not all of the common experiences associated with the disaster, such as perceptions of safety during the storm, loss of personal belongings and living without electricity and adequate food or water after the storm.

David Russell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fsu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Research offers clues for improved influenza vaccine design
09.04.2018 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Injecting gene cocktail into mouse pancreas leads to humanlike tumors
06.04.2018 | University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

Im Focus: The Future of Ultrafast Solid-State Physics

In an article that appears in the journal “Review of Modern Physics”, researchers at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) assess the current state of the field of ultrafast physics and consider its implications for future technologies.

Physicists can now control light in both time and space with hitherto unimagined precision. This is particularly true for the ability to generate ultrashort...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond-like carbon is formed differently to what was believed -- machine learning enables development of new model

19.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

Electromagnetic wizardry: Wireless power transfer enhanced by backward signal

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Ultrafast electron oscillation and dephasing monitored by attosecond light source

19.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>