What can multiwave studies teach us about disaster research

An analysis of low-income Hurricane Katrina survivors

Gillian Green, Sarah Lowe, Jean E. Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Previous research on natural disasters has been limited by a lack of predisaster data and statistical analyses that do not adequately predict change in psychological symptoms. In the current study, we addressed these limitations through analysis of 3 waves of data from a longitudinal investigation of 313 low-income, African American mothers who were exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Although postdisaster cross-sectional estimates of the impact of traumatic stress exposure and postdisaster social support on postdisaster psychological distress were somewhat inflated, the general trends persisted when controlling for predisaster data (B = 0.88 and -0.33, vs. B = 0.81 and -0.27, respectively). Hierarchical linear modeling of the 3 waves of data revealed that lower predisaster social support was associated with higher psychological distress at the time of the disaster (β = -16), and that higher traumatic stress exposure was associated with greater increases in psychological distress after the storm (β = .86). Based on the results, we suggest that the impact of traumatic stress on psychological trajectories cannot be accounted for solely by preexisting risk, and recommend more complex research designs to further illuminate the complex, dynamic relationships between psychological distress, traumatic stress exposure, and social support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2012

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Cyclonic Storms
Disasters
Survivors
Psychology
Social Support
Research
Statistical Data Interpretation
Psychological Stress
African Americans
Research Design
Mothers

Cite this

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abstract = "Previous research on natural disasters has been limited by a lack of predisaster data and statistical analyses that do not adequately predict change in psychological symptoms. In the current study, we addressed these limitations through analysis of 3 waves of data from a longitudinal investigation of 313 low-income, African American mothers who were exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Although postdisaster cross-sectional estimates of the impact of traumatic stress exposure and postdisaster social support on postdisaster psychological distress were somewhat inflated, the general trends persisted when controlling for predisaster data (B = 0.88 and -0.33, vs. B = 0.81 and -0.27, respectively). Hierarchical linear modeling of the 3 waves of data revealed that lower predisaster social support was associated with higher psychological distress at the time of the disaster (β = -16), and that higher traumatic stress exposure was associated with greater increases in psychological distress after the storm (β = .86). Based on the results, we suggest that the impact of traumatic stress on psychological trajectories cannot be accounted for solely by preexisting risk, and recommend more complex research designs to further illuminate the complex, dynamic relationships between psychological distress, traumatic stress exposure, and social support.",
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What can multiwave studies teach us about disaster research : An analysis of low-income Hurricane Katrina survivors. / Green, Gillian; Lowe, Sarah; Rhodes, Jean E.

In: Journal of Traumatic Stress, Vol. 25, No. 3, 01.06.2012, p. 299-306.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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