Stress Levels and Health Status of Victims of a Natural Disaster



Bereaved, property loss, and control groups (N = 155) were compared 11 months after the volcanic eruption of Mt. St. Helens using standardized instruments and structured interviews. It was hypothesized that the greater the loss the greater the stress and the poorer the health. Bereaved subjects reported significantly higher levels of stress and lower levels of mental health, but not physical health. Persons who lost their permanent homes reported high rates of stress, but did not report significantly higher levels of depression, somatization, or poorer physical health. Conceptual and methodological implications are discussed.