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To evaluate resilience and frequency of behavioral symptoms in Haitian children internationally adopted before and after the earthquake of January 12, 2010.
We conducted a retrospective quantitative study in 40 Haitian children. Families were also asked to participate in a qualitative study (individual interview at 18-24 months after the earthquake) and to complete State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and STAI for children (STAI-C) questionnaires.
Demographic and clinical characteristics were similar in the group who experienced the earthquake (n=22) and in the group who did not (n=18). The families of 30 adoptees were interviewed. There was no statistical difference between the two groups for the STAI (P=0.53) and STAI-C (P=0.75) or for the frequency of behavioral problems. Plenary adoption was pronounced for 84.6% and 33.3% of the children adopted in the pre- and post-earthquake group, respectively (P=0.02). Children rarely talked about the experience of the earthquake, which, by contrast, was a stressful experience for the adoptive families.
Haitian children adopted after the earthquake did not express more stress or behavioral problems than those adopted before it. However, the possibility of a resurgence of mental disorders after age 10 should be borne in mind. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:450–454)
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