Posttraumatic sequelae in a community hit by an avalanche



The posttraumatic sequelae for 104 adult inhabitants from the town of Flateyri. Iceland, were studied 10 weeks after an avalanche hit the town killing 20 people. Eighty-seven adults from the neighboring town of Thingeyri constituted a control group. On the basis of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30), 25% of the Flateyri group (twice as many than in Thingeyri) reached a level of psychiatric caseness. The most common symptoms were intrusive thoughts and feelings, tension, sadness, and anxiety. The loss of family members was associated with symptomatology. A high number of former life events correlated more strongly with distress symptoms than with the individual appraisal of these events. Distress symptoms were related to gender, age, and education.