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Psychological health is an important issue after disasters. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of psychological symptoms among 993 residents of Taean District in South Korea after the Hebei Spirit oil spill and to examine determinants of vulnerability in residents’ psychological symptoms.
Symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS), depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety were assessed by questionnaires, and the responses were analyzed by using the survey analysis considering the sampling frame.
Among the study subjects, the symptom prevalences of PTS, depression, suicidal ideation, and anxiety were 19.5%, 22.0%, 2.3%, and 4.2%, respectively, and symptoms were higher in people who were female, were older, were less educated, and had lower family income. People with fishery or related occupations compared to those with unrelated livelihoods and people residing in the vicinity of the oil band in the contaminated coastline showed additively increased symptom risks of PTS. Risk of suicidal ideation was predominantly increased in people with fishery or related occupations compared with those with unrelated livelihoods.
Social supports, including compensation for income loss and community mental health programs, and longer follow-up studies are needed for residents in the communities affected by the Hebei Spirit oil spill. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:51-58)