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The longitudinal mental health impact of Fukushima nuclear disaster exposures and public criticism among power plant workers: the Fukushima NEWS Project study

  • Y. Tanisho (a1), J. Shigemura (a2), K. Kubota (a3), T. Tanigawa (a4), E. J. Bromet (a5), S. Takahashi (a6), Y. Matsuoka (a7), D. Nishi (a8), M. Nagamine (a9), N. Harada (a10), M. Tanichi (a2), Y. Takahashi (a6), K. Shimizu (a9), S. Nomura (a2) (a11), A. Yoshino (a2) and Fukushima NEWS Project Collaborators...

Abstract

Background

The Fukushima Daiichi and Daini Nuclear Power Plant workers experienced multiple stressors as both victims and onsite workers after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear accidents. Previous studies found that disaster-related exposures, including discrimination/slurs, were associated with their mental health. Their long-term impact has yet to be investigated.

Method

A total of 968 plant workers (Daiichi, n = 571; Daini, n = 397) completed self-written questionnaires 2–3 months (time 1) and 14–15 months (time 2) after the disaster (response rate 55.0%). Sociodemographics, disaster-related experiences, and peritraumatic distress were assessed at time 1. At time 1 and time 2, general psychological distress (GPD) and post-traumatic stress response (PTSR) were measured, respectively, using the K6 scale and Impact of Event Scale Revised. We examined multivariate covariates of time 2 GPD and PTSR, adjusting for autocorrelations in the hierarchical multiple regression analyses.

Results

Higher GPD at time 2 was predicted by higher GPD at time 1 (β = 0.491, p < 0.001) and discrimination/slurs experiences at time 1 (β = 0.065, p = 0.025, adjusted R 2 = 0.24). Higher PTSR at time 2 was predicted with higher PTSR at time 1 (β = 0.548, p < 0.001), higher age (β = 0.085, p = 0.005), and discrimination/slurs experiences at time 1 (β = 0.079, p = 0.003, adjusted R 2 = 0.36).

Conclusions

Higher GPD at time 2 was predicted by higher GPD and discrimination/slurs experience at time 1. Higher PTSR at time 2 was predicted by higher PTSR, higher age, and discrimination/slurs experience at time 1.

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Copyright

This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

*Address for correspondence: J. Shigemura, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, National Defense Medical College, 3-2 Namiki, Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-8513, Japan. (Email: shige@ndmc.ac.jp) [J.S.] (Email: tt9178tt9178@gmail.com) [T.T.]

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