Risk indicators for post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescents exposed to the 5.12 Wenchuan earthquake in China

Xiaohong Ma, Xiang Liu, Xun Hu, Changjian Qiu, Yingcheng Wang, Yi Huang, Qiang Wang, Wei Zhang, Tao Li
Psychiatry Research 2011 October 30, 189 (3): 385-91
In Chinese adolescents exposed to the Wenchuan earthquake, we used the Children's Revised Impact of Event Scale (CRIES) as the screening tool, and Post-traumatic Cognitions Inventory (PTCI) and the Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS) were used to assess the cognitive status and their social supports, to evaluate the prevalence and the predictors variables of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the Wenchuan earthquake in China, which occurred on 12 May 2008. Subjects with a CRIES score greater than 30 were interviewed and assessed using the DSM-IV criteria for PTSD diagnosis by a trained psychiatrist with the Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children Lifetime version (Kiddie-SADS-L). We found the overall prevalence of PTSD was 2.5% in 3208 adolescents from the surrounding areas of the epicentre 6months after the earthquake. Risk factors for post-traumatic stress symptoms are as follows: being female, being buried/injured during the earthquake, having parents who were severely injured, having classmate(s) who died, having a house destroyed, and witnessing someone buried/wounded/dying during the earthquake. Individuals with better social support had significantly lower scores on the CRIES. There were significant differences in cognitive style between individuals at low risk for PTSD (CRIES<30) and those at high risk for PTSD (CRIES≥30). Post-traumatic cognition emerged as an important factor that was associated with PTSD reactions in children. Social support can lessen the impact of a natural disaster by affecting post-traumatic cognition.

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