The prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder among adult earthquake survivors in Peru

Javier B Cairo, Suparna Dutta, Haq Nawaz, Shahrukh Hashmi, Stanislav Kasl, Edgar Bellido
Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness 2010, 4 (1): 39-46

OBJECTIVES: To estimate the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to assess the relationships between PTSD and demographic and disaster-related factors.

METHODS: Five months after a magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the city of Pisco, Peru, we conducted a cross-sectional study using demographic questions, the PTSD Checklist, and a translated version of the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. We used stratified sampling to randomly enroll subjects in Pisco and its annexes. We then used bivariate and multivariate analyses to find correlations between PTSD and demographic and disaster-related factors.

RESULTS: We interviewed 298 adult earthquake survivors and detected 75 cases of PTSD (prevalence 25.2%; 95% confidence interval, 20.2%-30.1%). In the bivariate analysis, PTSD was significantly associated with female sex, loss of church, food and water shortages immediately after the earthquake, joblessness, injuries, loss of a relative or friend, lack of clean drinking water or appropriate sleeping conditions 5 months after the earthquake, and low levels of perceived support from family and friends. In the multivariate analysis, only female sex, food and water shortages, loss of church, injuries, and low levels of perceived support from family and friends were independently associated with PTSD.

CONCLUSIONS: PTSD affected about a quarter of Pisco's population. Its impact was moderate to severe when compared with other disasters worldwide and in Latin America.

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