The influence of news events on health after disaster: A longitudinal study in general practice



This study investigates the influence of local and international news events on utilization of health services resources and health complaints as presented by victims of a fireworks depot disaster. It was hypothesized that victims (N = 2,854) will show more utilization and health complaints to their general practitioner (GP) in the week after 11 local news reports of events relating to the specific index trauma and 6 unrelated disasters reported in international print news, than the week before. Health data of victims and matched controls were extracted from electronic medical records, covering 4-years postdisaster. Especially local news events concerning the cause of the disaster were associated in both victims and controls with an increase of GP utilization and health complaints, including medically unexplained physical symptoms, chronic diseases, and psychological problems. No difference between victims and controls were found.