Trajectories of psychological distress among low-income, female survivors of Hurricane Katrina

Sarah R. Lowe, Jean E. Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to investigate trajectories of psychological distress among low-income, primarily unmarried and African American women who survived Hurricane Katrina (N = 386). Data were collected in the year prior to the hurricane as well as approximately 1 and 3 years thereafter. Using Latent Class Growth Analysis (LCGA), we detected 6 distinct trajectory groups. Over half of the participants fit into a trajectory consistent with resilience; that is, they maintained low levels of psychological distress over the course of the study, but experienced an elevation in symptoms at the first predisaster time point followed by a return to predisaster levels. The other trajectories reflected a range of psychological responses to disasters and indicated that predisaster functioning had a major influence on postdisaster psychological outcomes. Degree of exposure to hurricane-related stressors, experiences of human and pet bereavement, perceived social support, and socioeconomic status were significant predictors of trajectory group membership. Implications for research and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-412
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2 PART 3
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Delayed distress
  • Disaster exposure
  • Displacement
  • Human bereavement
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane survivors
  • Pet loss
  • Postdisaster psychological distress
  • Women


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