Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among subjects exposed to a natural disaster


Address Professor Mario Maj Cattedra di Igiene Mentale Primo Policlinico Universitario Piazza Miraglia 2 I-80138 Napoli Italy


ABSTRACT– A general practice study was carried out in 3 areas of the province of Naples, in southern Italy: Pozzuoli (PZ), a town exposed to significant seismic events in 1983, Monte Ruscello (MR), a village built to accommodate the victims of the earthquake, and Monte di Procida (MP), a town selected as a control since it is situated near PZ and was not significantly affected by the earthquake. The sociodemographic characteristics of the subjects examined were comparable in the 3 areas. The estimate of the real prevalence of psychiatric disorders according to Diamond & Lilienfeld was found to be higher in PZ and MR than in MP. Neurotic depression was the most frequent psychiatric diagnosis. The relative risk of mental disorders in subjects who reported none one or more social problems compared with those who reported none was more than 4 times greater in PZ and MR than in MP. Social problems also differed qualitatively, being more frequently related to living conditions in PZ and MR and to the primary social network in MP.