Towards an understanding of the psychological impact of natural disasters: An application of the conservation resources stress model



The current study employed the Conservation of Resources (COR) stress model as a template for understanding short-term adjustment following a natural disaster (Hobfoll, 1989). The following three hypotheses were supported: resource loss was positively related to psychological distress; resource loss was relatively more important in predicting psychological distress than personal characteristics and coping behavior; and, resource loss constitutes a risk factor for the development of clinically significant psychological distress. The theoretical importance of the current findings is discussed, particularly the tendency within disaster literature to confound crisis experiences (e.g., terror) with resource loss experiences (e.g., loss of possessions, loss of social support) when defining degree of disaster exposure. Also, the practical importance of considering resource loss in planning intervention services is highlighted.