Social support as a moderator of the relationship between anxiety and depression: an empirical study with adult survivors of Wenchuan earthquake

Jiuping Xu, Ying Wei
PloS One 2013, 8 (10): e79045

BACKGROUND: On May 12th 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 on the Richter scale struck China, causing a large number of casualties and significant economic losses. By interviewing 2080 survivors of Wenchuan earthquake, the objective of this study is to estimate the role of different types of social support as possible moderating factors between anxiety and depression.

METHODS: A stratified random sampling strategy about the cross-sectional study was adopted. The self-rating anxiety scale (SAS), Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) and Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS) were used. A total of 2080 adult survivors of the Wenchuan earthquake from 19 damaged countries participated in the survey. Correlation analysis and regression analysis were performed to evaluate the moderating role of social support on the relationship between anxiety and depression.

RESULTS: One year after the Wenchuan earthquake, anxiety and depression were found to be 37.6% and 40.7%, respectively. Demographic characteristics were seen as significant in the cases of depression, except for age (p=0.599), while age and education level were not found to be significant for anxiety. The results showed that social support, especially subjective support could moderate the association between anxiety and depression.

CONCLUSIONS: Social support should be particularly focused on female survivors, those of the Han ethnic group, and those with a lower level of education and a lower income. Psychological intervention and care for survivors should focus on those most disoriented by the disaster.

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