Family functioning and its predictors among disaster bereaved individuals in China: eighteen months after the Wenchuan Earthquake

Xiaoyi Cao, Xiaolian Jiang, Xiaolin Li, Man-Chun Jenny Hui Lo, Rong Li
PloS One 2013, 8 (4): e60738

BACKGROUND: The 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China resulted in great loss of life and property, and previous studies have focused on psychopathological symptoms in survivors after disasters. This study examined perceived family functioning and its predictors in disaster bereaved individuals eighteen months after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

METHODOLOGY/FINDINGS: This was a cross-sectional study of a convenience sample of 264 bereaved individuals. The instruments used in the study included Family APGAR Index, Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation ScaleãÀ, Emotional and Social Loneliness Scale, and a range of items eliciting demographic characteristics and disaster-related variables. The results indicated that the rates of moderate family dysfunction and severe family dysfunction in bereaved individuals were 37.1% and 12.9%, respectively. Less financial loss during the earthquake was a significant predictor for positive family function. Better self-rated health status after the earthquake was significantly related to positive family function, cohesion, and adaptability. Scores on family cohesion and adaptability in bereaved individuals from extended or nuclear families were significantly higher than those from single-parent families. The ability to give birth to another baby of bereaved parents was a significant predictor for positive family function and cohesion. Poorer family function, cohesion and adaptability were significantly related to greater loneliness.

CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: This study found a high prevalence of family dysfunction in bereaved individuals eighteen months after the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake. Strategies can be designed to facilitate post-disaster recovery, particularly for the bereaved at high risk for family dysfunction. The study provides useful information for post-disaster rebuilding and relief work.

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