Victims exposed to serious traumatic experiences may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suffer this mental health problem for a long time. Different types of trauma displayed a chronicity rate of PTSD within the range of 6.3-68.9 %. As one of the most common and severe natural disasters, the natural progression of flood related PTSD has not been revealed. The aim of this study was to estimate the chronicity rate and identify the prognostic factors of PTSD in flood victims.
Flood victims, who were over the age of 16 and diagnosed with PTSD in 2000 in Huarong, Ziyang, and Anxiang counties of Hunan province, China, were enrolled in this survey. Current probable PTSD was analyzed using the PTSD Checklist-Civilian version. Data were collected in face-to-face interviews and analyzed using univariate analysis and multiple logistic regression models.
The rate of current probable PTSD was 15.4 %. The current occurrences of re-experiencing, avoidance/numbing, and hyper-arousal symptom groups were 69.3 %, 17.2 %, and 50.2 %, respectively. Significant prognostic factors for current probable PTSD were flood-related stressors (e.g., life-threatening experiences, extreme physical adversity, and extreme psychological adversity) and frequency of general collective action. The relationships still existed when taking the fluctuation of frequency of general collective action into consideration. Gender and education level showed no influence on the recovery from PTSD. The impact of age in this study was inconsistent; in the 2000 model, around 2006 model, around 2013 model, and all FGCA model, older age was positive prognosis factor for PTSD; in the univariate analysis and fluctuation model, age showed no influence on the recovery from PTSD.
Our findings indicated that PTSD can persist 13 years after a flood. Demographic characteristics (e.g., age, gender, and education level) seem to have no influence on the recovery from PTSD. Trauma-related stressors and social participation are important predictors for remission from chronic PTSD.