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Suicide substantially impacts disaster-affected communities due to pre-existing psychosocial effects caused by the disaster. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, local disaster aid workers had overworked for months, and many workers eventually died by suicide. Although many workplaces suffered this dual damage, there is limited literature on psychosocial postvention in this context. This study reports the activities of individual/group postventions provided to these aid workers. The bereaved person expressed grief for the loss of their colleagues and anger for not being protected. The postvention observed unusual and distinctive group dynamics. It was essential for mental health professionals to address 2 types of traumatic exposures in the group programs —trauma from the disaster and their colleagues’ deaths due to suicide. These postvention programs might be beneficial in maintaining aid workers’ mental health and helping them cope with the loss of their colleagues.
First responders to disasters are at risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The trajectories of post-traumatic stress symptom severity differ among individuals, even if they are exposed to similar events. These trajectories have not yet been reported in non-Western first responders.
We aimed to explore post-traumatic stress symptom severity trajectories and their risk factors in first responders to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) – a historically large earthquake that resulted in a tsunami and a nuclear disaster.
A total of 55 632 Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) personnel dispatched to the GEJE were enrolled in this 7-year longitudinal cohort study. PTSD symptom severity was measured using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. Trajectories were identified using latent growth mixture models (LGMM). Nine potential risk factors for the symptom severity trajectories were analysed using multinomial logistic regression.
Five symptom severity trajectories were identified: ‘resilient’ (54.8%), ‘recovery’ (24.6%), ‘incomplete recovery’ (10.7%), ‘late-onset’ (5.7%), and ‘chronic’ (4.3%). The main risk factors for the four non-resilient trajectories were older age, personal disaster experiences and working conditions. These working conditions included duties involving body recovery or radiation exposure risk, longer deployment length, later or no post-deployment leave and longer post-deployment overtime.
The majority of first responders to GEJE were resilient and developed few or no PTSD symptoms. A substantial minority experienced late-onset and chronic symptom severity trajectories. The identified risk factors can inform policies for prevention, early detection and intervention in individuals at risk of developing symptomatic trajectories.
To integrate scholastic literature regarding the prevalence and characteristics of the psychological consequences faced by survivors of the 2011 Fukushima earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster, we conducted a systematic review of survivor studies concerning the Fukushima disaster. In August 2019, four literature databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, and ICHUSHI) were used in the literature search. Peer-reviewed manuscripts reporting psychological consequences, either in English or Japanese, were selected. A total of 79 studies were selected for the review. Twenty-four studies (30.4%) were conducted as part of the Fukushima Health Management Survey—large-scale cohort study recruiting the residents of the entire Fukushima prefecture. Study outcomes were primarily nonspecific psychological distress, depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress symptoms, and anxiety symptoms. The rates of high-risk individuals determined by the studies varied significantly owing to methodological differences. Nevertheless, these rates were mostly high (nonspecific psychological distress, 8.3%-65.1%; depressive symptoms, 12%-52.0%; and post-traumatic stress symptoms, 10.5%-62.6%). Many studies focused on vulnerable populations such as children, mothers of young children, evacuees, and nuclear power plant workers. However, few studies reported on the intervention methods used or their effect on the survivors. As a conclusion, high rates of individuals with psychological conditions, as well as a wide range of mental conditions, were reported among the Fukushima nuclear disaster survivors in the first 8 years after the disaster. These findings demonstrate the substantial impact of this compound disaster, especially in the context of a nuclear catastrophe.
To compile the findings of studies assessing emotional and behavioral changes in the survivors of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, we performed a systematic review in August 2019 using four literature databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, and ICHUSHI). Peer-reviewed manuscripts, either in English or Japanese, were included in the searches. Sixty-one studies were retrieved for the review. Of these, 41 studies (67.2%) assessed emotional consequences, 28 studies (45.9%) evaluated behavioral consequences, and 8 studies (13.1%) evaluated both emotional and behavioral outcomes. The main research topic in emotional change was radiation exposure-associated risk perception, as reported in 15 studies. This risk perception included immediate health effects (eg, acute radiation syndrome) as well as future health effects (eg, future cancer and genetic effects). Lowered subjective well-being was reported in eight studies. Six studies reported perceived discrimination/stigmatization in the disaster survivors. The most critical behavioral change was an increase in suicides compared with residents in the whole of Japan or affected by the earthquake and tsunami, but not by the nuclear disaster. Increased rate of alcohol and tobacco use was reported, although the effect on one’s health was inconsistent. As a conclusion, the Fukushima nuclear disaster survivors suffered issues in risk perception, well-being, stigmatization, and alcohol/tobacco use in the first 8 years after the disaster. The present study is important in order to better understand the emotional and behavioral responses to future nuclear/radiological disasters as well as other “invisible” disasters, such as chemical and biological public health crises.
United Nations peacekeeping personnel face numerous stressors due to their challenging deployments. Past studies have had inconsistent results regarding whether or not their deployment experience affects their mental health outcomes. Further studies are required to ascertain the associations between their outcomes and factors before, during and after their peacekeeping missions.
The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. The Daiichi workers faced multiple stressors (workplace trauma, victim experiences, and public criticism deriving from their company’s post-disaster management). Literatures suggest the importance of workplace interpersonal support (WIS) in enhancing psychological health among disaster workers. We sought to elucidate the role of their demographics, disaster-related experiences, and post-traumatic stress symptoms on perceived WIS.
We analyzed self-report questionnaires of 885 workers 2-3 months post-disaster. We used sociodemographic and disaster exposure-related variables and post-traumatic stress symptoms (measured by the Impact of Event Scale-Revised) as independent variables. We asked whether WIS from colleagues, supervisors, or subordinates was perceived as helpful, and used yes or no responses as a dependent variable. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess correlates of WIS.
Of the participants, one-third (34.7%) reported WIS. WIS was associated with younger age (20-28 years [vs 49-], adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 3.25, 95% CI: 1.99-5.32), supervisory work status (aOR: 2.30, 95% CI: 1.35-3.92), and discrimination or slur experience (aOR: 1.65, 95% CI: 1.08-2.53).
Educational programs focusing on WIS might be beneficial to promote psychological well-being among nuclear disaster workers, especially younger workers, supervisors, and workers with discrimination experiences. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:460–463)
We sought to elucidate news article reporting of adverse public psychosocial behaviors, in particular, rumor-related coverage (eg, panic, demagoguery) and exclusive behavior coverage (negative behaviors, eg, discrimination, bullying) during the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) influenza pandemic in Japan.
We examined 154 Internet news-site articles reporting adverse public psychosocial responses in the first 60 days of the outbreak. Rumor-related coverage and exclusive behavior coverage were dichotomously coded as included or not. Moreover, we assessed whether or not health information (eg, coping methods, virus toxicity information) or emphasis on information quality (eg, importance of information, cautions about overreactions) were simultaneously reported.
Rumor-related coverage (n=120, 77.9%) was less likely to simultaneously report public health information (eg, toxicity information, health support information, and cautions about overreactions; P<.05). Conversely, exclusive behavior coverage (n=41, 26.6%) was more likely to report public health information (P<.05).
Rumor-related coverage was less likely to have accompanying public health information, whereas exclusive behavior coverage was more likely to include it. During public health crises, it is essential to understand that rumors and exclusive behaviors have adverse effects on the public and that accompanying public health information may help people take proactive coping actions. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:459–463)