The impact of child-related stressors on the psychological functioning of lower-income mothers after Hurricane Katrina

Sarah R. Lowe, Christian S. Chan, Jean E. Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


In the present study, the authors examined the role of child-related stressors in the psychological adjustment of lower-income, primarily unmarried and African American, mothers (N = 386). All participants lived in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, and about a third were also exposed to Hurricane Rita (30.3%, n = 117). Lacking knowledge of a child's safety during the hurricanes was a significant predictor of heightened postdisaster psychological distress and posttraumatic stress, even after controlling for demographic variables, predisaster psychological distress, evacuation timing, and bereavement. From interviews with a subset of the participants (n = 57), we found that mothers consistently put their own needs behind those of their children. The authors recommend policies that promptly reunite mothers with missing children and support lower-income mothers in caring for their children during natural disasters and the aftermath.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1303-1324
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011



  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane Rita
  • child-related stressors
  • disasters
  • lower-income mothers
  • mothering

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