• Risk factors for psychological and physical health problems after a man-made disaster

      Dirkzwager, Anja J E; Grievink, Linda; Velden, Peter G van der; Yzermans, C Joris (The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2006-04-03)
      Background There are few prospective studies on risk factors for health problems after disasters in which actual pre-disaster health data are available. Aims To examine whether survivors' personal characteristics, and pre-disaster psychological problems, and disaster-related variables, are related to their post-disaster health. Method Two studies were combined: a longitudinal survey using the electronic medical records of survivors' general practitioners (GPs), from 1 year before to 1 year after the disaster, and a survey in which questionnaires were filled in by survivors, 3 weeks and18 months after the disaster. Data from both surveys and the electronic medical records were available for 994 survivors. Results After adjustment for demographic and disaster-related variables, pre-existing psychological problems were significantly associated with post-disaster self-reported health problems and post-disaster problems presented presentedtothe to the GP. This association was found for both psychological and physical post-disaster problems. Conclusions In trying to prevent long-term health consequences after disaster, early attention to survivors with pre-existing psychological problems, and to those survivors who are forced to relocate or are exposed to many stressors during the disaster, appears appropriate.