Posttraumatic stress disorder and its risk factors among adolescent survivors three years after an 8.0 magnitude earthquake in China

Yali Tian, Thomas K S Wong, Jiping Li, Xiaolian Jiang
BMC Public Health 2014, 14: 1073

BACKGROUND: Serious and long-lasting psychiatric consequences can be found in children and adolescents following earthquake, including the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although researchers have been focused on PTSD recently, its prevalence and risk factors after a huge natural disaster are still unclear because of limited sample size. The purpose of this study is to explore the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in adolescent survivors three years after the Wenchuan earthquake, describe PTSD symptoms, and to find out risk factors of PTSD.

METHODS: A total of 4,604 adolescents from three middle schools which located in earthquake-stricken areas were recruited in this study. Instruments included the demographic questionnaire, questionnaire about earthquake exposure, the Social Support Appraisal Scale (SSA), the Posttraumatic stress disorder Checklist-Civilian Version (PCL-C), and the structured clinical interview for DSM-IV Disorders (SCID).

RESULTS: The prevalence rate of PTSD was 5.7% (frequency: nā€‰=ā€‰261), and the most commonly occurring symptoms of PTSD were distress at reminders (64.5%), difficulty concentration (59.1%), and being easily startled (58.6%). Loss of houses and property, being injured, deaths of family members, and witness of death are positive risk factors of PTSD, and physical exercise and social support are negative risk factors of PTSD.

CONCLUSIONS: Professional and effective interventions are needed to reduce the development of PTSD among adolescents after the Wenchuan earthquake, especially for these who lost their houses or property and lost their family members, witnessed death, and lacked of social support in the earthquake. Moreover, injured adolescents and adolescents who lacked of physical exercise also need intervention due to high risk.

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