Background: This study aimed to investigate the risk factors associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in a mid- and old-age population who experienced Typhoon Morakot in Taiwan.
Methods: One hundred and twenty people, who were mostly Taiwanese aboriginal people aged 55 years and above, were invited to participate in this study. PTSD symptoms were assessed using the PTSD Symptom Scale (PSS-I). Information regarding demographic characteristics, relocation, personal injury, family death, property damage, and self-perceived health was collected.
Results: 29.2% of study participants presented significant PTSD symptomatology during the previous month. Development of PTSD symptomatology after the disaster was significantly associated with being female (OR 3.63, 95% CI = 1.11–11.88), experiencing relocation (OR 5.64, 95% CI = 1.60–19.88), and having poorer self-perceived health (OR 4.24, 95% CI = 1.53–11.78) after controlling for age, education, personal injury, family death, and property damage. Further, by adding depression into the analysis, we found the risk factors were being female (OR 4.66, 95% CI = 1.16–18.80), experiencing relocation (OR 27.91, 95% CI = 3.74–229.80), family death (OR 67.62, 95% CI = 2.85–1063.68), and poorer self-perceived health (OR 28.69, 95% CI = 4.52–182.06).
Conclusion: Nearly 30% of the elderly people studied who experienced Typhoon Morakot developed significant PTSD symptomatology. The risk factors for PTSD symptoms were female gender, poorer self-perceived health, relocation, family death, and depression. The elderly people who were relocated by governmental programs were more likely to develop PTSD symptomatology after experiencing trauma. Resettlement and rehabilitation programs after a disaster need to be more concerned with their psychological effects on victims.