Community Unemployment and Disaster-Related Stressors Shape Risk for Posttraumatic Stress in the Longer-Term Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Sarah R. Lowe, Laura Sampson, Oliver Gruebner, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Persons living in communities with limited resources are at heightened risk of posttraumatic stress (PTS) after disasters, especially if they were highly exposed. The support deterrence desistence model and the conservation of resources theory suggest that this risk might increase in the longer-term aftermath of disasters. In the present study, we aimed to test this hypothesis. Two population-based samples of New York City residents in communities affected by Hurricane Sandy were surveyed at either 13-16 months (Time 1; n = 421) or 25-28 months (Time 2; n = 420) postdisaster. Participants reported on their exposure to disaster-related stressors and PTS. The percentage of residents who were unemployed in participants' census tracts was collected from the 2008-2012 American Community Survey. Multilevel models found that disaster-related stressors were more strongly associated with PTS for participants living in communities with high unemployment, but only at Time 2 (Est. = .58, SE = .21, p = .006). Mapping of community unemployment and disaster-related stressors suggested that communities in southern Brooklyn and Queens, and northeastern Staten Island were at particularly high risk for PTS at Time 2. The results suggest the need for ongoing support to economically disadvantaged communities in which residents have endured disaster-related stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume29
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016

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