Earthquake impact in a remote South Asian population: Psychosocial factors and posttraumatic symptoms

Authors


  • The authors wish to thank Manuel Trujillo, MD, for his support, and the Psychiatry Department, Bellevue Hospital, New York University for partial funding of this project. We would also like to thank the following individuals in Pakistan whose contributions helped us with data collection and recruitment logistics: Shahid Ghafoor, MBBS, Khalid Hussain, and Nisar Ahmad. Special thanks to Riffat Ara Ahmad, MBBS, Aamir Sajjad Haider, and Shahid Ghafoor, MBBS, for assistance with translation services.

Abstract

Although previous studies have documented the psychological impact of earthquakes, less is known about potentially protective characteristics associated with healthier outcomes. In the present study, 2 samples of survivors were recruited from remote villages in Northwestern Pakistan, 7 and 19 months after the devastating October 2005 earthquake. Female gender, lower education, and closer proximity to the epicenter predicted significantly higher posttraumatic symptom levels. After adjusting for demographic characteristics, distance from the epicenter, and death of close relatives, higher dispositional optimism and higher scores on the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale were significantly associated with lower symptom levels. The authors' findings in a previously unstudied population suggest that certain potentially protective mechanisms, such as optimism, may be universal regardless of culture of origin.

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