Perceptions of distress and positive consequences following exposure to a major disaster amongst a well-studied cohort
Fergusson, David M.; Boden, Joseph M.; Horwood, L. John; Mulder, Roger
Objectives: Research on the impact of natural disasters on health and well-being faces several methodological challenges, including: sampling issues; exposure assessment; and outcome measurement. The present study used a comprehensive measure of disaster exposure to assess relationships between exposure to the Canterbury (New Zealand) Earthquakes of 2010-2011 and both: (a) self-reported distress and (b) positive outcomes; and also investigated gender differences in reports. Methods: Data were gathered from the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a 35-year longitudinal study. The study examined data from 495 individuals exposed to the Canterbury Earthquakes for who complete data on exposure and reactions to the earthquakes at age 35 were available. Results: Participants with higher levels of exposure to the earthquakes reported significantly (p<0.0001) higher levels of distress due to fear, death and injury, and disruption caused by the earthquakes. Higher levels of exposure to the earthquakes were also associated with significantly (p<0.0001) higher levels of reporting positive consequences following the earthquakes. Women reported significantly (p<0.0001) greater distress than men and significantly (p<0.001) greater positive consequences. Conclusions: Higher levels of exposure to disaster were associated with higher levels of distress, but also with higher levels of self-reported positive outcomes, with females reporting higher levels of both positive and negative outcomes. The findings highlight the need for comprehensive assessment of disaster exposure, to consider gender and other group differences in reactions to disaster exposure, and for studies of disasters to examine both positive and negative consequences.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Rights Statement: This version in OUR Archive is the author's manuscript accepted for publication after peer-review. The published version is: Fergusson, D. M., Boden, J. M., Horwood, L. J., & Mulder, R. T. (2015). Perceptions of distress and positive consequences following exposure to a major disaster amongst a well-studied cohort. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(4), 351-359. doi: 10.1177/0004867414560652
Research Type: Journal Article