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Resource loss, resource gain, and mental health among survivors of Hurricane Katrina


  • This study was funded by NIH grant R01HD046162, the National Science Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Princeton Center for Economic Policy Studies. We thank Thomas Brock and MDRC, Christina Paxson, Mary Waters, and Elizabeth Fussell.


Prior research has shown that losses of personal, social, and material resources resulting from traumatic events significantly contribute to psychopathology. Gains of such resources have been shown to have protective effects on posttrauma mental health. Few previous studies of resource change, however, have controlled for pretrauma mental health. The current study, which included 402 survivors of Hurricane Katrina, made use of data collected prehurricane to examine patterns of loss and gain and subsequent mental health. The loss of social support, physical health, and personal property were shown to significantly affect posthurricane psychological distress over and above the effect of prehurricane psychological functioning and disaster exposure. Gains in resources showed no effect. Implications for practice and policy were discussed.

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