Immediate and Longer-Term Stressors and the Mental Health of Hurricane Ike Survivors

Sarah R. Lowe, Melissa Tracy, Magdalena Cerdá, Fran H. Norris, Sandro Galea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous research has documented that individuals exposed to more stressors during disasters and their immediate aftermath (immediate stressors) are at risk of experiencing longer-term postdisaster stressors. Longer-term stressors, in turn, have been found to play a key role in shaping postdisaster psychological functioning. Few studies have simultaneously explored the links from immediate to longer-term stressors, and from longer-term stressors to psychological functioning, however. Additionally, studies have inadequately explored whether postdisaster psychological symptoms influence longer-term stressors. In the current study, we aimed to fill these gaps. Participants (N = 448) were from population-based study of Hurricane Ike survivors and completed assessments 2-5 months (Wave 1), 5-9 months (Wave 2) and 14-18 months (Wave 3) postdisaster. Through path analysis, we found that immediate stressors, assessed at Wave 1, were positively associated with Wave 2 and Wave 3 stressors, which in turn were positively associated with Wave 2 and Wave 3 posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms. Wave 2 posttraumatic stress symptoms were positively associated with Wave 3 stressors, and Wave 1 depressive symptoms were positively associated with Wave 2 stressors. The findings suggest that policies and interventions can reduce the impact of disasters on mental health by preventing and alleviating both immediate and longer-term postdisaster stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-761
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume26
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2013

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