Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Living with a Chronic Disabling Illness and Then Some: Data from the 1998 Ice Storm*

  • Monique A.M. Gignac (a1) (a2), Cheryl A. Cott (a1) (a3) and Elizabeth M. Badley (a1) (a2)

Abstract

This study examined the impact of the 1998 Canadian ice storm on the physical and psychological health of older adults (age > 55 years) living with a chronic physical illness, namely osteoarthritis and/or osteoporosis. Although disasters are relatively rare, they are a useful means of examining the impact of a single stressor on a group of individuals. Specifically, we took advantage of a natural experiment to compare the responses of a group of 59 ice storm victims to those of 55 matched controls living outside the ice storm area. Data on disability, pain, self-reported health, helplessness, depression, and independence were assessed prior to the ice storm and approximately 17 months later. Older adults who reported greater helplessness and lost independence prior to the storm reported significantly greater ice storm stress and rumination and were more likely to report that the storm affected their condition. In addition, participants exposed to the ice storm reported significant changes in disability and pain nearly a year and a half later, compared to matched controls. These results suggest that older adults with chronic physical illness may be particularly vulnerable when faced with additional stressful events.

L'étude examine l'impact de la tempête canadienne de verglas de 1998 sur la santé physique et psychologique des personnes âgées (soit de 55 ans et plus) et vivant avec une maladie physique chronique tel l'arthrite par usure et/ou l'ostéoporose. Bien que les catastrophes soient rares, elles servent de moyen efficace pour examiner l'impact d'une seule tension sur un groupe de personnes. Plus précisément, nous avons tiré profit d'une expérience naturelle afin de comparer les réponses d'un groupe de 59 victimes de la tempête de verglas contre celles de 55 personnes faisant partie d'un groupe contrôle se retrouvant à l'extérieur de la zone de la tempête de verglas. Nous avons analysé des données portant sur l'incapacité, la douleur, les auto-reportages de santé, l'impuissance, la dépression et l'indépendance. Ces données ont été évaluées avant la tempête de verglas et plus ou moins 17 mois après cette dernière. Les personnes âgées qui témoignaient une impuissance accrue et une perte d'indépendance avant la tempête, faisaient preuve d'une augmentation de stress et de méditation suivant la tempête ; de plus elles étaient plus susceptibles de témoigner que la tempête avant eu un effet négatif sur leur condition. En comparaison au groupe contrôle, les participants exposés à la tempête de verglas ont fait preuve de changements importants en incapacité et en douleur et ce presque 18 mois suivant la tempête. Ces résultats suggèrent que les personnes âgées qui souffrent d'une maladie physique chronique peuvent être spécialement vulnérables lorsque confrontées à des évènements stressants.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Requests for offprints should be sent to: / Les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à : Monique A.M. Gignac, Ph.D., Division of Outcomes & Population Health, The Toronto Western Research Institute, Main Pavilion 10–316, 399 Bathurst Street, Toronto, ON M5T 2S8. (gignac@uhnres.utoronto.ca)

Footnotes

Hide All
*

This research was supported by Grant 410970184 from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and by an Ontario Ministry of Health, Health System–Linked grant to The Arthritis Community Research and Evaluation Unit. We thank Debbie Sutton, Christine Dixon, and Julie Bowring for their assistance with the paper.

Footnotes

References

Hide All
Abley, M. (1998). The ice storm. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart.
Badley, E.M., Rasooly, I., & Webster, G. (1994). Relative importance of musculoskeletal disorders as a cause of chronic health problems, disability, and health care utilization: Findings from the 1990 Ontario Health Survey. Journal of Rheumatology, 21, 505514.
Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191215.
Bell, B.D. (1978). Disaster impact and response: Overcoming the thousand natural shocks. The Gerontologist, 18, 531540.
Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University. (1978). Multidimensional functional assessment: The OARS methodology (2nd ed.). Durham, NC: Author.
DeVellis, R.F., & Callahan, L.F. (1993). A brief measure of helplessness in rheumatic disease: The helplessness subscale of the Rheumatology Attitudes Index. Journal of Rheumatology, 20, 866869.
Friedsam, H.J. (1962). Older persons in disaster. In Baker, G.W. & Chapman, D.W. (Eds.), Man and society in disaster (pp. 151182). New York: Basic.
Fries, J.J., Spitz, P., Kraines, R.G., & Holman, H.R. (1980). Measurement of patient outcome in arthritis. Arthritis and Rheumatology, 23, 137145.
Gignac, M.A.M., Cott, C., & Badley, E.M. (2000). Adaptation to chronic illness and disability and its relationship to perceptions of independence and dependence. Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, 55B, P362P372.
Gignac, M.A.M., Cott, C., & Badley, E.M. (2002). Adaptation to disability: Applying selective optimization with compensation to the behaviors of older adults with osteoarthritis. Psychology and Aging, 17, 520524.
Ginexi, E.M., Weihs, K., Simmens, S.J., & Hoyt, D.R. (2000). Natural disaster and depression: A prospective investigation of reactions to the 1993 Midwest floods. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28, 495518.
Goenjian, A.K., Najarian, L.M., Pynoos, R.S., Steinberg, A.M., Manoukian, G., Tavosian, A., & Fairbanks, L.A. (1994). Posttraumatic stress disorder in elderly and younger adults after the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 151, 895901.
Havens, B., & Hall, M. (1999). Experiences of older Manitobans with the 1997 Red River flood. Report prepared for Manitoba Health. Winnipeg, MB: Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba.
Hutchins, G.L., & Norris, F.H. (1989). Life change in the disaster recovery period. Environment and Behavior, 21, 3356.
Kilijanek, T.S., & Drabek, T.E. (1979). Assessing long-term impacts of a natural disaster: A focus on the elderly. The Gerontologist, 19, 555566.
Knight, B. G., Gatz, M., Heller, K., & Bengtson, V. L. (2000). Age and emotional response to the Northridge Earthquake: A Longitudinal Analysis. Psychology and Aging, 15, 627634.
Krause, N. (1987). Exploring the impact of a natural disaster on the health and psychological well-being of older adults. Journal of Human Stress, 13, 6169.
Lanza, A.F., & Revenson, T.A. (1993). Social support interventions for rheumatoid arthritis patients: The cart before the horse? Health Education Quarterly, 20, 97117.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer.
Miller, J.A., Turner, J.G., & Kimball, E. (1981). Big Thompson flood victims: One year later. Family Relations, 30, 111116.
Nicassio, P.M., Wallston, K.A., Callahan, L.F., Herbert, M., & Pincus, T. (1985). The measurement of helplessness in rheumatoid arthritis. The development of the Arthritis Helplessness Index. Journal of Rheumatology, 12, 462467.
Nolen-Hoeksema, S., & Morrow, J. (1991). A prospective study of depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms after a natural disaster: The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 61, 115121.
Parker, J.C., Smarr, K.L., Buckelew, S.P., Stucky-Ropp, R.C., Hewett, J.E., Johnson, J.C., et al. (1995). Effects of stress-management on clinical outcomes in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis & Rheumatism, 38, 18071818.
Perry, R.W., & Lindell, M.K. (1997). Aged citizens in the warning phase of disasters: Re-examining the evidence. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 44, 257267.
Phifer, J.F., Kaniasty, K.Z., & Norris, F.H. (1988). The impact of natural disaster on the health of older adults: A multiwave prospective study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 29, 6578.
Phifer, J.F., & Norris, F.H. (1989). Psychological symptoms in older adults following natural disaster: Nature, timing, duration, and course. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 44, S207S217.
Phillips, D. (1998). The worst ice storm in Canadian history? Environment Canada. Retrieved 23 July 2003 from http://www.msc-smc.ec.gc.ca/events/icestorm98
Radloff, L.S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychometric Measurement, 1, 385401.
Reisine, S.T. (1995). Arthritis and the family. Arthritis Care & Research, 8, 265271.
Rubonis, A.V., & Bickman, L. (1991). Psychological impairment in the wake of disaster: The disaster-psychopathology relationship. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 384399.
Suinn, R.M. (2001). The terrible twos – Anger and anxiety: Hazardous to your health. American Psychologist, 56, 2736.
Taylor, S.E. (1983). Adjustment to threatening events: A theory of cognitive adaptation. American Psychologist, 38, 11611173.
Thoits, P.A. (1982). Conceptual, methodological, and theoretical problems in studying social support as a buffer against life stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 23, 145159.
Thompson, M.P., Norris, F.N., & Hanacek, B. (1993). Age differences in the psychological consequences of Hurricane Hugo. Psychology and Aging, 8, 606616.
Tobin, G.A., & Ollenburger, J.C. (1996). Predicting levels of postdisaster stress in adults following the 1993 floods in the upper Midwest. Environment and Behavior, 28, 340357.
Tyler, K.A., & Hoyt, D.R. (2000). The effects of an acute stressor on depressive symptoms among older adults. Research on Aging, 22, 143164.

Keywords

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed