Prevalence and risk factors of post-traumatic stress disorder among adult survivors six months after the Wenchuan earthquake

Xiaobo Zhou, Lin Kang, Xueli Sun, Hui Song, Wenjun Mao, Xuanyin Huang, Yinghui Zhang, Jing Li
Comprehensive Psychiatry 2013, 54 (5): 493-9

PURPOSE: Exposure to earthquake has been associated with psychological distress, in particular, the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of PTSD, explore the associated risk factors among adult survivors 6 months after the Wenchuan earthquake in China, and compare the findings in our study to other studies about the Wenchuan earthquake and other earthquakes that occurred in the past.

METHODS: Multistage stratified random sampling methods were conducted in three severely affected areas in the Wenchuan earthquake. In this study, 14,798 individuals were identified with simple random selection methods at the sampling sites, 14,207 individuals were screened with the 12-item General Health Questionnaire(GHQ-12), and 3692 individuals were administered a Chinese version of the Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-IV axis I disorders (SCID-I/P) by 180 psychiatrists.

RESULT: The prevalence of PTSD was 15.57%. The risk factors for PTSD included old age, female gender, living alone, buried in the earthquake, injured in the earthquake, operated on after the earthquake, witnessing someone get injured in the earthquake, witnessing someone get buried in the earthquake, witnessing someone die in the earthquake (P<0.05, 95% CI).

CONCLUSION: PTSD is common after a major disaster. Risk factors help people to identify the potential victims after disasters in time. Post-disaster mental health recovery interventions include early identification, sustained psychosocial support, governmental programs that provide social and economic support.

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