This work was funded by the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare. The study was carried out in collaboration with the Centre for Family and Community Medicine and the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Social Support Moderates Posttraumatic Stress and General Distress After Disaster
Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
Copyright © 2012 International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies
Journal of Traumatic Stress
Volume 25, Issue 6, pages 721–727, December 2012
How to Cite
Arnberg, F. K., Hultman, C. M., Michel, P.-O. and Lundin, T. (2012), Social Support Moderates Posttraumatic Stress and General Distress After Disaster. J. Traum. Stress, 25: 721–727. doi: 10.1002/jts.21758
- Issue published online: 6 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
- Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency
- Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare
Social support buffers the negative impact of stressful events. Less, however, is known about the characteristics of this association in the context of disaster and findings have been discrepant regarding direct and buffering effects. This study tested whether the protective effects of social support differed across levels of exposure severity (i.e., buffered distress) and assessed whether the buffering effect differed between event-specific and general distress. Participants were 4,600 adult Swedish tourists (44% of invited; 55% women) repatriated within 3 weeks after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. A survey 14 months after the disaster included the Crisis Support Scale, the Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R), and the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Social support buffered the negative impact of exposure on both outcomes. The support and distress association ranged from very small in participants with low exposure to moderate in those with high exposure (ηp2 = .004 to .053). The buffering effect was not found to differ between the IES-R and GHQ-12, F(2, 4589) = 0.87, p = .42. The findings suggest that social support moderates the stressor-distress relationship after disasters. This study might help explain discrepant findings and point to refinements of postdisaster interventions.