Objective: This community study assessed the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the psychosocial consequences of the landslide which occurred in Sarno, Southern Italy, in May 1998.
Method: A random sample (n=272) of the population living in the highest risk area of Sarno, and a control group recruited in a small town situated near the disaster area, but not affected by the event, were assessed 1 year after the disaster by standardized instruments.
Results: Of the subjects recruited in Sarno, 27.6% met DSM-IV criteria for PTSD; 59% subjects recruited in Sarno and 35% of the control group were identified as ‘probable cases’ by the GHQ-30 (P<0.0001). Subjects recruited in Sarno had significantly higher scores on the four GHQ-30 subscales identified by factor analysis.
Conclusion: This study emphasizes the negative impact of a natural catastrophic event on mental health, and the need for preventive interventions.