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Life Events and Psychiatric Disorder: the Role of a Natural Disaster

  • Alexander C. McFarlane (a1)

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Examining the impact of natural disasters on psychological health provides an opportunity to study the role played by extreme adversity in the onset of psychiatric disorder. Four hundred and sixty-nine fire-fighters who had been intensely exposed to an Australian bushfire disaster completed a detailed inventory of their experiences four months later. They also completed a brief life events schedule and the 12-item General Health Questionnaire. Only 9% of the GHQ score variance could be accounted for by the disaster and other life events; the effects of the disaster appeared to be separate and additive. This is similar to the relationship between life events and psychiatric illness found in other settings. It is suggested that vulnerability is a more important factor in breakdown than the degree of stress experienced.

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Life Events and Psychiatric Disorder: the Role of a Natural Disaster

  • Alexander C. McFarlane (a1)
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