Little is known about the effects of natural disasters on pregnancy outcomes. We studied mental health and birth outcomes among women exposed to Hurricane Katrina.
We collected data prospectively from a cohort of 301 women from New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Pregnant women were interviewed during pregnancy about their experiences during the hurricane, as well as whether they had experienced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression. High hurricane exposure was defined as having three or more of the eight severe hurricane experiences, such as feeling that one's life was in danger, walking through floodwaters, or having a loved one die.
The frequency of low birth weight was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (4.7%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 3.3; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13−9.89; p<0.01. The frequency of preterm birth was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (14.0%) than women without high hurricane exposure (6.3%), with aOR: 2.3; 95% CI: 0.82−6.38; p>0.05. There were no significant differences in the frequency of low birth weight or preterm birth between women with PTSD or depression and women without PTSD or depression (p>0.05).
Women who had high hurricane exposure were at an increased risk of having low birth weight infants. Rather than a general exposure to disaster, exposure to specific severe disaster events and the intensity of the disaster experience may be better predictors of poor pregnancy outcomes. To prevent poor pregnancy outcomes during and after disasters, future disaster preparedness may need to include the planning of earlier evacuation of pregnant women to minimize their exposure to severe disaster events.
Depression; disaster; low birth weight; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
Natural disaster is often a cause of psychopathology, and women are vulnerable to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Depression is also common after a woman gives birth. However, no research has addressed postpartum women's mental health after natural disaster.
Interviews were conducted in 2006–2007 with women who had been pregnant during or shortly after Hurricane Katrina. 292 New Orleans and Baton Rouge women were interviewed at delivery and 2 months postpartum. Depression was assessed using the Edinburgh Depression Scale and PTSD using the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist. Women were asked about their experience of the hurricane with questions addressing threat, illness, loss, and damage. Chi-square tests and log-binomial/Poisson models were used to calculate associations and relative risks (RR).
Black women and women with less education were more likely to have had a serious experience of the hurricane. 18% of the sample met the criteria for depression and 13% for PTSD at two months postpartum. Feeling that one's life was in danger was associated with depression and PTSD, as were injury to a family member and severe impact on property. Overall, two or more severe experiences of the storm was associated with an increased risk for both depression (relative risk (RR) 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08–2.89) and PTSD (RR 3.68, 95% CI 1.80–7.52).
Postpartum women who experience natural disaster severely are at increased risk for mental health problems, but overall rates of depression and PTSD do not seem to be higher than in studies of the general population.
Exposure to multiple traumatic events and high rates of mental health problems are common among juvenile offenders. This study draws on Conservation of Resources (COR) stress theory to examine the impact of a specific trauma, Hurricane Katrina, relative to other adverse life events on the mental health of female adolescent offenders in Mississippi. Teenage girls (N = 258, 69% African American) were recruited from 4 juvenile detention centers and the state training school. Participants were interviewed about the occurrence and timing of adverse life events and hurricane-related experiences and completed a self-administered mental health assessment. Hierarchical linear regression models were used to identify predictors of anxiety and depression. Pre-hurricane family stressors, pre-hurricane traumatic events, hurricane-related property damage, and receipt of hurricane-related financial assistance significantly predicted symptoms of anxiety and depression. Findings support COR theory. Family stressors had the greatest influence on symptoms of anxiety and depression, highlighting the need for family-based services that address the multiple, inter-related problems and challenges in the lives of female juvenile offenders.
female juvenile offenders; hurricane exposure; family stressors; anxiety; depression
Although disaster causes distress, many disaster victims do not develop long-term psychopathology. Others report benefits after traumatic experiences (post-traumatic growth). The objective of this study was to examine demographic and hurricane-related predictors of resilience and post-traumatic growth.
222 pregnant southern Louisiana women were interviewed, and 292 postpartum women completed interviews at delivery and eight weeks later. Resilience was measured by scores lower than a non-affected population, using the Edinburgh Depression Scale and the Post-Traumatic Stress Checklist (PCL). Post-traumatic growth was measured by questions about perceived benefits of the storm. Women were asked about their experience of the hurricane, addressing danger, illness/injury, and damage. Chi-square tests and log-Poisson models were used to calculate associations and relative risks (RR) for demographics, hurricane experience, and mental health resilience and perceived benefit.
35% of pregnant and 34% of the postpartum women were resilient from depression, while 56% and 49% were resilient from post-traumatic stress disorder. Resilience was most likely among white women, older women, and women who had a partner. A greater experience of the storm, particularly injury/illness or danger, was associated with lower resilience. Experiencing damage due to the storm was associated with increased report of some perceived benefits.
Many pregnant and postpartum women are resilient from the mental health consequences of disaster, and perceive benefits after a traumatic experience. Certain aspects of experiencing disaster reduce resilience, but may increase perceived benefit.
resilience; depression; postpartum; pregnancy; disaster; post-traumatic stress disorder
Little is known about the effects of disaster exposure and intensity on the development of mental disorders among pregnant women. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of exposure to Hurricane Katrina on mental health in pregnant women.
Prospective cohort epidemiological study.
Tertiary hospitals in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, USA.
Women who were pregnant during Hurricane Katrina or became pregnant immediately after the hurricane.
Main outcome measures
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.
The frequency of PTSD was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (13.8%) than women without high hurricane exposure (1.3%), with an adjusted odds ratio (aOR) of 16.8; 95 % confidence interval (CI): 2.6-106.6; after adjustment for maternal race, age, education, smoking and alcohol use, family income, parity, and other confounders. The frequency of depression was higher in women with high hurricane exposure (32.3%) than women without high hurricane exposure (12.3%), with aOR of 3.3 (1.6-7.1). Moreover, the risk of PTSD and depression increased with an increasing number of severe experiences of the hurricane.
Pregnant women who had severe hurricane experiences were at a significantly increased risk for PTSD and depression. This information should be useful for screening pregnant women who are at higher risk of developing mental disorders after disaster.
Depression; disaster; Hurricane Katrina; post-traumatic stress disorder; pregnancy
We examined patterns and correlates of speed of recovery of estimated posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among people who developed PTSD in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
A probability sample of pre-hurricane residents of areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was administered a telephone survey 7-19 months following the hurricane and again 24-27 months post-hurricane. The baseline survey assessed PTSD using a validated screening scale and assessed a number of hypothesized predictors of PTSD recovery that included socio-demographics, pre-hurricane history of psychopathology, hurricane-related stressors, social support, and social competence. Exposure to post-hurricane stressors and course of estimated PTSD were assessed in a follow-up interview.
An estimated 17.1% of respondents had a history of estimated hurricane-related PTSD at baseline and 29.2% by the follow-up survey. Of the respondents who developed estimated hurricane-related PTSD, 39.0% recovered by the time of the follow-up survey with a mean duration of 16.5 months. Predictors of slow recovery included exposure to a life-threatening situation, hurricane-related housing adversity, and high income. Other socio-demographics, history of psychopathology, social support, social competence, and post-hurricane stressors were unrelated to recovery from estimated PTSD.
The majority of adults who developed estimated PTSD after Hurricane Katrina did not recover within 18-27 months. Delayed onset was common. Findings document the importance of initial trauma exposure severity in predicting course of illness and suggest that pre- and post-trauma factors typically associated with course of estimated PTSD did not influence recovery following Hurricane Katrina.
Disasters; Post-traumatic stress disorders; PTSD; Stressful Events; Time Factors
Uncertainty exists about the prevalence, severity, and correlates of mental disorders among people exposed to Hurricane Katrina.
To estimate the prevalence and associations between DSM-IV anxiety-mood disorders and hurricane-related stressors separately among prehurricane residents of the New Orleans metropolitan area and the remainder of the areas in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi affected by Katrina.
Setting and Participants:
A probability sample of 1043 English-speaking prehurricane residents of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was administered via telephone survey between January 19 and March 31, 2006. The survey assessed hurricane-related stressors and screened for 30-day DSM-IV anxiety-mood disorders.
Main Outcome Measures:
The K6 screening scale of anxiety-mood disorders and the Trauma Screening Questionnaire scale for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), both calibrated against blinded structured clinical reappraisal interviews to approximate the 30-day prevalence of DSM-IV disorders.
Prehurricane residents of the New Orleans metropolitan area were estimated to have a 49.1% 30-day prevalence of any DSM-IV anxiety-mood disorder (30.3% estimated prevalence of PTSD) compared with 26.4% (12.5% PTSD) in the remainder of the sample. The vast majority of respondents reported exposure to hurricane-related stressors. Extent of stressor exposure was more strongly related to the outcomes in the New Orleans metropolitan area subsample than the remainder of the sample. The stressors most strongly related to these outcomes were physical illness/injury and physical adversity in the New Orleans metropolitan area subsample and property loss in the remainder of the sample. Sociodemographic correlates were not explained either by differential exposure or reactivity to hurricane-related stressors.
The high prevalence of DSM-IV anxiety-mood disorders, the strong associations of hurricane-related stressors with these outcomes, and the independence of sociodemographics from stressors argue that the practical problems associated with ongoing stressors are widespread and must be addressed to reduce the prevalence of mental disorders in this population.
This article provides a detailed examination of the relationship between disaster-related experiences and mental health outcomes among a sample of drug using African American Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Face-to-face structured interviews were administered to Hurricane Katrina evacuees (n = 350) residing in voucher assisted apartment complexes in Houston, Texas (2006–2007). We use Ordinary Least Squares and logistic regression models to examine both the relevance of disaster-related experiences and the interactive relationships between disaster-related experiences and post-disaster mental health outcomes including psychological distress, severe depression, somatic symptoms, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Results indicate that disaster-related experiences including negative life changes, disaster exposure, post-disaster stressors, and resource loss, have unique, inverse relationships with mental health. While resource loss has the strongest inverse relationship with mental health, disaster exposure has a negative interactive effect on psychological distress and anxiety. Although highly vulnerable populations report low levels of mental health nearly 2 years following a disaster experience, there is a convergence in mental health outcomes with high levels of disaster experiences and disaster exposure that suggests mental resiliency.
Disasters; Post-traumatic stress disorder; Depression; Mental health
The purpose of this study was to document changes in mental and physical health among 392 low-income parents exposed to Hurricane Katrina and to explore how hurricane-related stressors and loss relate to post-Katrina well being. The prevalence of probable serious mental illness doubled, and nearly half of the respondents exhibited probable PTSD. Higher levels of hurricane-related loss and stressors were generally associated with worse health outcomes, controlling for baseline socio-demographic and health measures. Higher baseline resources predicted fewer hurricane-associated stressors, but the consequences of stressors and loss were similar regardless of baseline resources. Adverse health consequences of Hurricane Katrina persisted for a year or more, and were most severe for those experiencing the most stressors and loss. Long-term health and mental health services are needed for low-income disaster survivors, especially those who experience disaster-related stressors and loss.
A representative sample of 815 pre-hurricane residents of the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina was interviewed 5-8 months after the hurricane and again one year later as the Hurricane Katrina Community Advisory Group (CAG). The follow-up survey was carried out to study patterns-correlates of recovery from hurricane-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), broader anxiety-mood disorders, and suicidality. The TSQ screening scale of PTSD and the K6 screening scale of anxiety-mood disorders were used to generate DSM-IV prevalence estimates. Contrary to results in other disaster studies, where post-disaster mental disorder typically decreases with time, prevalence increased significantly in the CAG for PTSD (20.9% vs. 14.9% at baseline), serious mental illness (SMI; 14.0% vs. 10.9%), suicidal ideation (6.4% vs. 2.8%), and suicide plans (5% vs. 1.0%). The increases in PTSD-SMI were confined to respondents not from the New Orleans Metropolitan Area, while the increases in suicidal ideation-plans occurred both in the New Orleans sub-sample and in the remainder of the sample. Unresolved hurricane-related stresses accounted for large proportions of the inter-temporal increases in SMI (89.2%), PTSD (31.9%), and suicidality (61.6%). Differential hurricane-related stress did not explain the significantly higher increases among respondents from areas other than New Orleans, though, as this stress was both higher initially and decreased less among respondents from the New Orleans Metropolitan Area than from other areas affected by the hurricane. Outcomes were only weakly related to socio-demographic variables, meaning that high prevalence of hurricane-related mental illness remains widely distributed in the population nearly two years after the hurricane.
Anxiety disorder; epidemiology; mood disorder; natural disaster; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
New Orleans school children participated in an assessment and field trial of two interventions 15 months after Hurricane Katrina. Children (N = 195) reported on hurricane exposure, lifetime trauma exposure, peer and parent support, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depressive symptoms. Teachers reported on behavior. At baseline, 60.5% screened positive for PTSD symptoms and were offered a group intervention at school or individual treatment at a mental health clinic. Uptake of the mental health care was uneven across intervention groups, with 98% beginning the school intervention, compared to 37% beginning at the clinic. Both treatments led to significant symptom reduction of PTSD symptoms but many still had elevated PTSD symptoms at post treatment. Implications for future postdisaster mental health work are discussed.
Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf Coast of the United States in August 2005, exposed area residents to trauma and extensive property loss. However, little is known about the long-run effects of the hurricane on the mental health of those who were exposed. This study documents long-run changes in mental health among a particularly vulnerable group—low income mothers—from before to after the hurricane, and identifies factors that are associated with different recovery trajectories. Longitudinal surveys of 532 low-income mothers from New Orleans were conducted approximately one year before, 7 to 19 months after, and 43 to 54 months after Hurricane Katrina. The surveys collected information on mental health, social support, earnings and hurricane experiences. We document changes in post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS), as measured by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised, and symptoms of psychological distress (PD), as measured by the K6 scale. We find that although PTSS has declined over time after the hurricane, it remained high 43 to 54 months later. PD also declined, but did not return to pre-hurricane levels. At both time periods, psychological distress before the hurricane, hurricane-related home damage, and exposure to traumatic events were associated with PTSS that co-occurred with PD. Hurricane-related home damage and traumatic events were associated with PTSS without PD. Home damage was an especially important predictor of chronic PTSS, with and without PD. Most hurricane stressors did not have strong associations with PD alone over the short or long run. Over the long run, higher earnings were protective against PD, and greater social support was protective against PTSS. These results indicate that mental health problems, particularly PTSS alone or in co-occurrence with PD, among Hurricane Katrina survivors remain a concern, especially for those who experienced hurricane-related trauma and had poor mental health or low socioeconomic status before the hurricane.
Mental health; natural disasters; Hurricane Katrina; USA; women
To estimate the impact of Hurricane Katrina on mental illness and suicidality by comparing results of a post-Katrina survey with those of an earlier survey.
The earlier survey interviewed 826 adults in the Census Divisions affected by Katrina. The post-Katrina survey interviewed a new sample of 1043 adults who lived in the area prior to the hurricane. Identical questions were asked about mental illness and suicidality. The post-Katrina survey also assessed several dimensions of post-traumatic personal growth (e.g., increased closeness to loved one, increased religiosity). Outcome measures were the K6 screening scale of serious (SMI) and mild-moderate (MMI) mental illness and questions about suicide ideation, plans and attempts.
Post-Katrina respondents had significantly higher estimated prevalence of SMI (13.8% vs. 6.1%, χ21 = 24.6, p < .001) and MMI (21.3% vs. 9.7%, χ21 = 33.8, p < .001) than respondents in the earlier survey. Suicidal ideation and plans given estimated mental illness were significantly lower in the post-Katrina survey (0.6% vs. 8.4%, χ21 = 14.3, p < .001 ideation; 0.2% vs. 3.6%, χ21 = 13.3, p < .001 plans). This lower suicidality was strongly related to two dimensions of post-traumatic personal growth (increased sense of meaning and purpose in life, realization of inner strength), without which between-survey differences in suicidality were insignificant.
Despite the estimated prevalence of mental illness doubling after Hurricane Katrina, suicidality was unexpectedly low. The role of post-traumatic personal growth in ameliorating the effects of trauma-related mental illness on suicidality warrants further investigation.
To investigate temperament in infants whose mothers were exposed to Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and to determine if high hurricane exposure is associated with difficult infant temperament. A prospective cohort study of women giving birth in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA (n=288) in 2006–2007 was conducted. Questionnaires and interviews assessed the mother’s experiences during the hurricane, living conditions, and psychological symptoms, two months and 12 months postpartum. Infant temperament characteristics were reported by the mother using the activity, adaptability, approach, intensity, and mood scales of the Early Infant and Toddler Temperament Questionnaires, and “difficult temperament” was defined as scoring in the top quartile for three or more of the scales. Logistic regression was used to examine the association between hurricane experience, mental health, and infant temperament. Serious experiences of the hurricane did not strongly increase the risk of difficult infant temperament (association with 3 or more serious experiences of the hurricane: adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 1.50, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.63–3.58 at 2 months; 0.58, 0.15–2.28 at 12 months). Maternal mental health was associated with report of difficult infant temperament, with women more likely to report having a difficult infant temperament at one year if they had screened positive for PTSD (aOR 1.82, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61–5.41), depression, (aOR 3.16, 95% CI 1.22–8.20) or hostility (aOR 2.17, 95% CI 0.81–5.82) at 2 months. Large associations between maternal stress due to a natural disaster and infant temperament were not seen, but maternal mental health was associated with reporting difficult temperament. Further research is needed to determine the effects of maternal exposure to disasters on child temperament, but in order to help babies born in the aftermath of disaster, the focus may need to be on the mother’s mental health.
infant temperament; natural disaster; postpartum depression; post-traumatic stress disorder
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been associated with stress, but few studies have examined the effect of natural disaster on IPV. In this study, we examine the relationship between experience of Hurricane Katrina and reported relationship aggression and violence in a cohort of 123 postpartum women. Hurricane experience was measured using a series of questions about damage, injury, and danger during the storm; IPV was measured using the Conflict Tactics Scale (CTS-2). Multiple log-poisson regression was used to calculate relative risks, adjusted for potential confounders. Most reported that they and their partners had explained themselves to each other, showed each other respect, and also insulted, swore, or shouted during conflicts with each other. Much smaller proportions reported physical violence, sexual force, or destroying property, though in each case at least 5% endorsed that it had happened at least once in the last six months. Similar proportions reported that they and their partners had carried out these actions. Experiencing damage due to the storm was associated with increased likelihood of most conflict tactics. Strong relative risks were seen for the relationship between damage due to the storm and aggression or violence, especially being insulted, sworn, shouted, or yelled at (adjusted relative risk [aRR]1.23, 1.02–1.48), pushed, shoved, or slapped (aRR 5.28, 95% CI 1.93–14.45), or being punched, kicked, or beat up (aRR 8.25, 1.68–40.47). Our results suggest that certain experiences of the hurricane are associated with an increased likelihood of violent methods of conflict resolution. Relief and medical workers may need to be aware of the possibility of increased IPV after disaster.
This prospective study examined the pathways by which religious involvement affected the post-disaster psychological functioning of women who survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The participants were 386 low-income, predominantly Black, single mothers. The women were enrolled in the study before the hurricane, providing a rare opportunity to document changes in mental health from before to after the storm, and to assess the protective role of religious involvement over time. Results of structural equation modeling indicated that, controlling for level of exposure to the hurricanes, pre-disaster physical health, age, and number of children, pre-disaster religiousness predicted higher levels of post-disaster (1) social resources and (2) optimism and sense of purpose. The latter, but not the former, was associated with better post-disaster psychological outcome. Mediation analysis confirmed the mediating role of optimism and sense of purpose.
Religiousness; Hurricane Katrina; Psychosocial resources
Researchers have reported how Hurricane Katrina has affected teachers who work with Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12), yet little is known about how the natural disaster has affected other important K-12 faculty and staff (e.g., coaches, librarians, school counselors, and cafeteria workers). Missing from the literature is the impact that this natural disaster has had on these formal (school counselors) and informal (coaches, librarians) helpers of K-12 students. Using a focus group methodology, the authors examined the aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina on 12 school employees in New Orleans, Louisiana, 18 months after the hurricane. Informed by qualitative content analysis, three emergent themes were identified: emotion-focused aftereffects, positive coping, and worry and fear. The implications for future research and promoting hope in mental health counseling are discussed.
The authors examined the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (HKR) on cognitive and psychosocial functioning in a lifespan sample of adults 6 to 14 months after the storms. Participants were recruited from the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS). Most were assessed during the immediate impact period and retested for this study. Analyses of pre-and post-disaster cognitive data confirmed that storm-related decrements in working memory for middle-aged and older adults observed in the immediate impact period had returned to pre-hurricane levels in the post-disaster recovery period. Middle-aged adults reported more storm-related stressors and greater levels of stress than the two older groups at both waves of testing. These results are consistent with a burden perspective on post-disaster psychological reactions.
Natural disasters; environmental stressors; hurricane effects; oldest-old; Louisiana Health Aging Study
The following study examined the reactions of university students to Hurricane Katrina. A group of 68 New Orleans area students who were displaced from their home universities as a result of the hurricane were matched on race, gender, and age to a sample of 68 students who had been enrolled at Louisiana State University (LSU) prior to the hurricane. All students were enrolled at LSU at the time they participated in an online survey, conducted 3 months following the hurricane. The survey included symptom measures of depression, anxiety, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other variables. Results indicated displaced students experienced more trauma exposure and greater subsequent distress, more symptoms of PTSD, and more symptoms of depression. Moreover, traumatic exposure and distress from the traumatic exposure were found to fully mediate depressive symptoms and posttraumatic symptoms in the displaced students.
We examined health-related quality of life in adults in the Louisiana Healthy Aging Study (LHAS) after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that made landfall on the United States Gulf Coast region in 2005. Analyses of pre- and post-disaster SF-36 scores yielded declines in physical function and bodily pain. Mental health scores were lower for women than men. Gender differences were observed in religious beliefs and religious coping, favoring women. Religious beliefs and religious coping were negatively correlated with physical function, implying that stronger reliance on religiosity as a coping mechanism may be more likely among those who are less physically capable.
Natural disasters; hurricane effects; environmental stressors; health-related quality of life; religiosity; Louisiana Health Aging Study
Hemodialysis patients experience a high degree of psychosocial impairment.
The psychosocial status of hemodialysis patients after Hurricane Katrina was evaluated using the Hurricane Coping Self-Efficacy (HCSE) measure, the Short Form-12 Health Survey (physical component summary [PCS] and mental component summary [MCS]), and the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CES-D). These scales were administered to 391 hemodialysis patients (86% participation rate), 7 to 14 months after Hurricane Katrina.
The mean score (standard deviation) was 36.2 (9.6) for the HCSE scale, 37.1 (10.9) and 46.7 (12.7) for the PCS and MCS, respectively, and 10.0 (6.5) on the CES-D. Symptoms of depression (CES-D scores ≥10) were present in 45.5% of patients. After age, race and gender adjustment, evacuating less than 2 days prior to Hurricane Katrina making landfall and more fear of dying were associated with less favorable scores on the HCSE, MCS and CES-D scales. Patients placed in a shelter and with a longer displacement had significantly lower MCS scores and more depressive symptoms. More depressive symptoms were observed among patients hospitalized in the month following the storm. Those who evacuated to a hotel, with more fear of dying and who were hospitalized in the month following Hurricane Katrina had lower scores on the PCS.
Impaired psychosocial status was common among dialysis patients surviving Hurricane Katrina and associated with reduced coping. These data demonstrate the need for screening and management of psychosocial issues in hemodialysis patients after disasters.
hemodialysis; natural disasters; psychosocial status
To examine disruption of ongoing treatments among pre-existing cases and failure to initiate treatments among cases with new onset disorders in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
A telephone survey was administered to a probability sample of 1,043 English-speaking adult Katrina survivors between January 19 and March 31, 2006. The survey assessed post-hurricane treatment of emotional problems and barriers to treatment among respondents with self-reported pre-hurricane mental disorders and those with post-hurricane onsets of mental disorders.
Among respondents who had pre-existing mental disorders and used services in the year before the hurricane, 22.9% experienced reductions or terminations of their treatments after Katrina. Among those without pre-hurricane disorders who developed new-onset ones, 18.5% received some form of treatment for emotional problems since the disaster. Reasons for failing to continue treatments among pre-existing cases largely involved structural barriers to treatment, while reasons for failing to seek treatment among new-onset cases largely involved low perceived needs for treatment. The majority (64.5%) of respondents using post-Katrina treatments received them from general medical providers and received medication but no psychotherapy. Treatment of new-onset cases was positively related to age and income, while continued treatment of pre-existing cases was positively related to being Non-Hispanic White and having health insurance.
Hurricane Katrina survivors with mental disorders experienced large unmet needs for treatment, including frequent disruptions of existing care and widespread failure to initiate treatments among those with new onset disorders. Future disaster management plans should anticipate both types of need.
Hurricane Katrina; mental illness; mental health services
Hurricane Katrina dramatically altered the level of social and environmental stressors for the residents of the New Orleans area. The Family Stress Model describes a process whereby felt financial strain undermines parents’ mental health, the quality of family relationships, and child adjustment. Our study considered the extent to which the Family Stress Model explained toddler-aged adjustment among Hurricane Katrina affected and nonaffected families. Two groups of very low-income mothers and their 2-year-old children participated (pre-Katrina, n = 55; post-Katrina, n = 47). Consistent with the Family Stress Model, financial strain and neighborhood violence were associated with higher levels of mothers’ depressed mood; depressed mood was linked to less parenting efficacy. Poor parenting efficacy was associated to more child internalizing and externalizing problems.
One of the tragic legacies of Hurricane Katrina was the loss of life among Louisiana (LA) nursing home (NH) residents. Katrina revealed a staggering lack of emergency preparation and understanding of how to safely evacuate frail populations. Three years later, LA braced for Hurricane Gustav, a storm heralded to rival Katrina's power. Though its magnitude of destruction ultimately paled to Katrina, the warnings and predicted path preceding Gustav yielded a process of NH evacuations similar to Katrina. The goal of this paper was to ascertain whether NH administrative directors (ADs) felt more prepared to evacuate before Gustav.
In 2006, Dosa, et. al. (JAMDA, 3/07), interviewed 20 NH ADs by qualitative telephone survey to evaluate their lessons learned from Katrina. Administrators at these 20 participating nursing homes were contacted and asked to participate in a follow-up survey to compare hurricane preparedness between 2005 and 2008. Specifically, ADs were asked if they evacuated prior to Gustav, their destination, and about logistical issues with evacuation (e.g., transportation, injuries). ADs were asked to rate their confidence with state assistance, hurricane transportation, and evacuation preparedness on a 10-point scale (10=most confident) and compare their preparedness to Katrina.
Sixteen of the 20 NHs that participated in 2006 agreed to be surveyed – 11 of whom held the same position before Katrina. Unlike Katrina, when only 45% evacuated prior to the storm, all 16 NHs evacuated before Gustav. (56% to another NH and 46% to a church, gym, college, or other facility). Overall, ADs rated their confidence in preparedness for Gustav as a mean of 8.3 (range 5 to 10) – compared with a mean of 5.4 (range 3 to 8) for Katrina, a 54% improvement. Of the 11 ADs employed pre-Katrina, 73% reported improved collaboration with the state and 55% noted improved transportation. Nevertheless, seven ADs noted significant logistical problems during evacuation (mostly transportation); four noted resident injuries (two hip fractures, one traumatic fall, and one cerebrovascular accident); and two noted resident post-traumatic stress.
NH ADs felt more prepared to evacuate their residents for Gustav, owing partly to improved communication and collaboration with state agencies; however, significant morbidity and logistical problems remain with evacuating frail NH residents before hurricanes.
Hurricane Disasters; Emergency Preparedness; Evacuation
To examine patterns and predictors of trends in DSM-IV serious emotional disturbance (SED) among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina.
A probability sample of adult pre-hurricane residents of the areas affected by Katrina completed baseline and follow-up telephone surveys 18-27 months post-hurricane and 12-18 months later. Baseline adult respondents residing with children (ages 4-17) provided informant reports about the emotional functioning of these youths (n = 576) with the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The surveys also assessed hurricane-related stressors and ongoing stressors experienced by respondent families.
SED prevalence decreased significantly across survey waves from 15.1% to 11.5%, although even the latter prevalence was considerably higher than the pre-hurricane prevalence of 4.2% estimated in the US National Health Interview Survey. Trends in hurricane-related SED were predicted by both stressors experienced in the hurricane and ongoing stressors, with SED prevalence decreasing significantly only among youths with moderate stress exposure (16.8% vs. 6.5%). SED prevalence did not change significantly between waves among youths with either high stress exposure (30.0% vs. 41.9%) or low stress exposure (3.5% vs. 3.4%). Pre-hurricane functioning did not predict SED persistence among youths with high stress exposure, but did predict SED persistence among youth with low-moderate stress exposure.
The prevalence of SED among youths exposed to Hurricane Katrina remains significantly elevated several years after the storm despite meaningful decrease since baseline. Youths with high stress exposure have the highest risk of long-term hurricane-related SED and consequently represent an important target for mental health intervention.
Hurricane Katrina; SED; natural disaster; child mental health; stress