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Keywords:

  • natural disaster;
  • victim psychology;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder

We assessed the frequency of short-term, post-traumatic symptoms among evacuees of the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. A total of 67 younger subjects (under 60 years) and 75 elderly subjects (60 years or above) were interviewed during the third week after the earthquake, and 50 and 73 subjects, respectively, were interviewed during the eighth week. All subjects were assessed using the Post-Traumatic Symptom Scale. During the first assessment, subjects from both age groups experienced sleep disturbances, depression, hypersensitivity and irritability. During the second assessment, the percentage of younger subjects experiencing symptoms did not decrease, while elderly subjects showed a significant decrease in 8 of 10 symptoms. This may have been due to such factors as decreased psychological stress, extensive social networks, and previous disaster experiences in the case of the elderly subjects.